Text: Dwight R. Thomas and David K. Jackson, “Chapter 04 [Part 02],” The Poe Log (1987), pp. 185-245


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~~ 1836 ~~

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[page 185, continued:]

[1836] 1? JANUARY. RICHMOND. In the January Messenger Poe publishes an editorial note on Robert Greenhow's “Sketches of the History and Present Condition of Tripoli, with Some Account of the Other Barbary States;” “A Paean;” a filler (“A. W. Schlegel says, that in a German drama ... ”), “Metzengerstein. A Tale in Imitation of the German,” “Scenes from an Unpublished Drama” (Politian), and critical notices: “Mrs. Sigourney — Miss Gould — Mrs. Ellet” (Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney's Zinzendorff ...  , Miss H. E Gould's Poems, and Mrs. E. F. Ellet's Poems), “The Partisan” (William Gilmore Simms's The Partisan; A Tale of the Revolution), “Latrobe's Rambler” (Charles Joseph Latrobe's The Rambler in North America, 1832-33), “The South-West” (Joseph H. Ingraham's The South-West), “Poetry of Life” (Sarah Stickney's The Poetry of Life), “Miss Sedgwick's Sketches” (Catharine Maria Sedgwick's Tales and Sketches), “Reminiscences of Niebuhr” (Francis Lieber's Reminiscences of an Intercourse with Mr. Niebuhr), “Young Wife's Book,” “Robinson Crusoe” (Daniel Defoe's The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe), and “Christian Florist” (anon., The Christian Florist). Poe also writes an introductory Publisher's Notice and a footnote for the Supplement, which includes these testimonials:

The Critical Notices are much to our taste — decided in their character, correct (as we think) in judgment, and lashing dullness, as it always deserves to be lashed, with a cat-o’-nine-tails. — [John Hampden Pleasants, editor,] Richmond Whig.

The Editorial criticisms are generally just. — Whilst they “nothing extenuate,” and refuse to deal out indiscriminate compliment and unremitted praise, they yet are free from even the semblance of that illiberal spirit which delights rather to triumph in the detection of an error than in the generous acknowledgment and commendation of a beauty. They embrace reviews of many new and popular works which have lately issued from the Press; among which is the Life of Washington, written in Latin, and said to be a production of extraordinary merit. — Petersburg Intelligencer.

... the notice of new works, in the Southern Messenger, are, we have no [page 186:] hesitation in saying it, the boldest, the most independent and unflinching, of all that appears in the periodical world. ... the critiques on The Hawks of Hawk-Hollow — the Linwoods — and Norman Leslie we especially recommend to notice. They are evidently all written with equal sincerity, and force of true opinion, and as such command respect even where we differ from them in judgment. That on Dr. Bird's new book, for instance, is too favorable; and indeed we think that this gentleman is always overrated — that on “the Linwoods” is superlative, in truth, style, and taste; while that on Norman Leslie is severe to a fault; inasmuch as the criticism, though we cannot deny the truth of the greater portion of it, is paralyzed by the strong symptoms of personal hostility not to Mr. Fay only, but to all who may be supposed to favor or admire him. — New York Courier and Enquirer.

The tone of the criticisms differs widely from puffery, and is perfectly independent. — [Washington] National Intelligencer.

The contributions appear to be of an excellent kind; at least, those from Mr. Poe and others, whose reputations attracted our notice. The most striking feature of the number, however, is the critical department. — [Philadelphia] Pennsylvanian.

We perceive a considerable improvement in the editorial department, under which are contained several well written and judicious critical notices of new works. — Alexandria Gazette.

... among other things we must not forget that the author of the Lunar Hoax is indebted to the Hans Phaal of Mr. Poe (a regular contributor to the Messenger) for the conception and in a great measure for the execution of his discoveries. Indeed several passages in the two are nearly identical. ... The MS. found in a Bottle is extracted from The Gift, Miss Leslie's beautiful Annual. It is from the pen of Edgar A. Poe, “whose eccentric genius,” says the Charleston Courier, “delights in the creation of strange possibilities, and in investing the most intangible romances in an air of perfect verisimilitude.” We have heard the MS. found in a Bottle, called the best of his Tales — but prefer Lionizing and Morella. — The highest praise, however, and from the very highest quarters, has been awarded to all he has written. ... Among these, are Notices. ... not forgetting Norman Leslie, which is utterly torn to pieces in a long and detailed Review of the most bitter and unsparing sarcasm. ... The poetry is very excellent. ... the Scenes from an unpublished Drama by Edgar A. Poe. — Norfolk Herald.

The MS. found in a bottle. By Edgar A. Poe, is good, — it is original and well told. Its wild impossibilities are pictured to the imagination with all the detail of circumstances, which truth and the fearful reality might be supposed to present. Whilst we do not agree to the justness of the praise which has been bestowed upon some of Mr. Poe's pieces, we concur in the general commendation which he has received as a writer of great originality and one who promises well. ... The Review of Mr. Fay's novel Norman Leslie, is amusing and will be read, though we think some passages in it are in bad taste. The author is flayed, or to use a term more congenial with his taste, and with the Reviewer's article — blistered. — Charlottesville Jeffersonian.

The literary notices ... are highly piquant and amusing. ... There is an [page 187:] occasional severity in some of these strictures which we highly approve. ... The number of works reviewed in this monthly periodical, shows how much the cacoethes scribendi needs to be restrained. ... The longest of the metrical pieces [“The Dream”]. ... deserves less lenient treatment. ... We were disappointed in a “Dramatic Extract” from the pen of Mr. Edgar A. Poe. He had taught us to expect much, for his prose is often very high wrought poetry; but his poetry is prose, not in thought, but in measure. This is a defect of ear alone, which can only be corrected by more study than the thing is worth. As he has a large interest in all the praise that we have bestowed on the Messenger, we hope he will take this slight hint as kindly as it is meant. — [Beverley Tucker,] Washington Telegraph.

.... the editorial criticism and reviews appear to be written in a spirit of candor quite unusual for the American Press. — Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post.

We condemned a day or two ago the tone of the notice of the North American Review in the Southern Literary Messenger for December. This number is strong in notice of new works, and we like the severity of some of them: there is much matter for “cutting up.” But the cutter up must do his task like a neat carver, without smearing his own fingers. Our friend Mr. White and his editor should keep the tone and bearing of the Messenger elevated and cavalier-like. The higher the critic places himself, the more fatal will be his blows downwards. — [William Bose, editor,] Baltimore American.

Among its contributors, EDGAR A. POE, equally ripe in graphic humor and various lore, seems by common consent to have been awarded the laurel, and in the number before us fully sustaining the reputation of its predecessors, will be found proofs of his distinguished merit. — Charleston Courier [9 December 1835].

... we think the critical notices of this number, whether written by the old or new editor, more elevated in their tone than previously. There is a slight taint of pedantry about them, perhaps; and in one instance undue severity is shown towards a clever young author: yet they are, in the main, clever and just. ... Mr. Edgar A. Poe, a writer of much versatility of talent, has contributed much to this number. He is a magazinist somewhat in the style of Willis: he needs condensation of thought. But this is too flippant criticism for us, and we will read him more. — New York Spirit of the Times.

The Critical Notices in the present number of the Messenger, particularly of the North American and the British Reviews are in bad taste. The review of Glass’ Life of Washington is altogether unique. Some of the reviews are nevertheless good, and more than outweigh those that are bad. — [Hugh Blair Grigsby, editor,] Norfolk Beacon.

“Scenes from Politian,” like the prose productions from the same pen (Mr. Poe) evince great powers, wasted on trifles. Why, (to adopt the catechetical style of his own criticisms,) why does Mr. Poe throw away his strength on shafts and columns, instead of building a temple to his fame? Can he not execute as well as design? No one can doubt it who is conversant with his writings. Eschew affectation, Mr. Poe. ... Too much space is allotted to “Critical Notices” in the December No. of the Messenger — and several of the Notices themselves are too dogmatical and flippant. [page 188:] ... It should certainly not be occupied by review of Reviews — a dish of hash newly warmed, and served up, in all its insipidity, to an already palled appetite. Such reviews as that of Mr. Fay's “Norman Leslie” will be read. Men — and Women likewise — will always be attracted in crowds ... to see a fellow creature flayed alive. And Mr. Fay — who, by the way, is a great favorite with us — fully deserves a “blistering” for putting forth such a book as Norman Leslie. — Lynchburg Virginian.

Scenes from an Unpublished Drama, by Edgar A. Poe” contains one or two stirring and many beautiful passages — but we are not partial to dramatic poetry. ... The critical department of the Messenger is managed with great candor, consideration and ability. — New Yorker.

The publisher has secured the assistance of a gentleman of eminent literary talents, with whose aid it may be fairly inferred that the Messenger will not only sustain but increase its already extensive and deserved popularity. The literary notices contained in this number are written with great ability, but in our opinion rather too great a space has been devoted to that subject. — [William Gwynn, editor,] Baltimore Gazette.

... the critiques are now precisely what they should be in such a work. ... We have rarely read a review more caustic or more called for than the flaying which the new editor of the Messenger has so judiciously given Mr. Fay's “bepuffed, beplastered and be-Mirrored” novel of “Norman Leslie.” — [Hiram Haines, editor,] Petersburg Constellation.

[“A Fairy Tale” in the January 1836 Messenger (2:77-78) may have provided Poe with tone and color for his “The Island of the Fay” and “Eleonora “ See Mabbott (1978), 2:598 and 636.]

[1836] 12 JANUARY. The Richmond Enquirer reprints Poe's “A Paean.”

[1836] 12 JANUARY. Poe writes George Poe, Jr., in Mobile, Alabama, in behalf of Maria Clemm:

Having lately established myself in Richmond, and undertaken the Editorship of the Southern Literary Messenger, and my circumstances having thus become better than formerly, I have ventured to offer my aunt a home. She is now therefore in Richmond, with her daughter Virginia, and is, for the present boarding at the house of a Mrs Yarrington. My salary is only, at present, about $800 per ann: and the charge per week for our board, (Mrs Clemm's, her daughter's, and my own,) is $9. ...

It is ascertained that if Mrs C could obtain the means of opening, herself, a boarding-house in this city, she could support herself and daughter comfortably with something to spare. But a small capital would be necessary for an undertaking of this nature, and many of the widows of our first people are engaged in it, and find it profitable. I am willing to advance, for my own part, $100, and I believe that Wm & R. Poe will advance $100. If then you would so far aid her in her design as to loan her, Yourself 100, she will have sufficient to commence with. [page 189:] I will be responsible for the repayment of the sum, in a year from this date, if you can make it convenient to comply with her request (L, 1:79-80).

[1836] 15 JANUARY. NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA. An editor of the Newbern Spectator, presumably Robert G. Moore, disapproves “of the unnecessary severity of the criticism [in the Messenger]. ... this [January] number is a little more moderate, but yet not sufficiently so for a dignified and unbiassed periodical.” Moore reprints parts of Politian, “italicising freely the incongruities in sense and sound, and the unprecedented instances of tautology.”

[1836] 21 JANUARY. RICHMOND. Poe writes Edward L. Carey and Abraham Hart, requesting a review copy of Bulwer-Lytton's Rienzi (L, 2:672-73 [1966]).

[Poe reviewed Rienzi in the February Messenger. Paulding thought Bulwer's novel “much overrated.” See Paulding to White, 3 March 1836.)

[1836] 22 JANUARY. Poe writes John Pendleton Kennedy:

My health is better than for years past ... my pecuniary difficulties have vanished. ... Mr White is very liberal, and besides my salary of 520$ pays me liberally for extra work, so that I receive nearly $800. Next year, that is at the commencement of the second volume, I am to get $1000 (L, 1:81-82).

[1836] 26 JANUARY. WILLIAMSBURG. Beverley Tucker writes White:

Last night I received a letter from Mr. P. by which I learn that you may not feel as much confidence in his capacity for the duties of his station as is necessary for your mutual comfort. This doubt he attributes in part to what must have been a misconstruction by you of one of my letters. That I have not admired all Mr. P.'s productions, as much as some others, and that his writings are not so much to my taste as they would be were I (as would to God I were) as young as he, I do not deny. Thus much I expressed, and this so freely as to show that, had I meant more, I would have said more. You only know me on paper, but I think you can read this point in my character at the distance of sixty miles. I was equally sincere, I assure you, in what I said in his praise. ... I do not agree with the reading (or rather the writing and printing) public in admiring Mrs. Sigourney & Co., or any of our native poets except Halleck. In this I know I shall stand condemned. But I appeal from contemporaneous and reciprocal puffing to the impartial judgment of posterity. Let that pass. I only mention this to say that Mr. P.'s review of the writings of a leash of these ladies, in your last number, is a specimen of criticism, which for niceness of discrimination, delicacy of expression, and all that shows familiarity with the art, may well compare with any I have ever seen. ...

Mr. P. is young, and I thought him rash. I expressed this full as strongly as I [page 190:] thought it. I now repeat it, and apply to him the caution given by the God of Poets and Critics to his son when he permitted him to guide the Chariot that lights the world.

“Parce, puer, stimulis, et fortiter utere loris.”

.... I write this letter at his request (Woodberry, 1:154-56).

[1836] 5 FEBRUARY. RICHMOND. Poe writes Lucian Minor that, to preserve uniformity in the titles of articles, he has shortened the title of Minor's essay to read “Selection in Reading” and that he has omitted passages in Minor's “Liberian Literature” that might be taken as offensive (L, 1:83).

[1836] 6 FEBRUARY. White writes Beverley Tucker:

My own impression is, that, on the whole the present No. is fully equal to any of its predecessors. My right hand man Poe thinks it superior — this is natural.

I shall on some suitable occasion, tell you a great deal about my young friend and editor. It will be [only?] for your private ear (Vi-W-TC).

[1836] 9 FEBRUARY. Poe solicits from Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch, of Augusta, Georgia, a contribution to the Messenger and sends him a copy of the February issue (letter postmarked 13 February; L, 2:673 [1966]).

[1836] 9 FEBRUARY. BALTIMORE. John Pendleton Kennedy writes Poe, gives him advice, and asks for his help in the recovery of a painting:

I am greatly rejoiced at your success not only in Richmond, but every where. ... You are strong enough now to be criticized. Your fault is your love of the extravagant. Pray beware of it. You find a hundred intense writers for one natural one. Some of your bizarreries have been mistaken for satire — and admired too in that character. They deserved it, but you did not, for you did not intend them so. I like your grotesque — it is of the very best stamp, and I am sure you will do wonders for yourself in the comic, I mean the serio tragi comic. Do you easily keep pace with the demands of the magazine? I like the critical notices very well. ... Your letter assures me that you have entirely conquered your late despondency. ... There is a little scapegrace in Richmond, or its vicinity, to whom I have heretofore shown favour. I mean H——d [William James Hubard] the painter. He carried away from me four years ago nearly, a painting of myself & Mrs. K. and her sister, which I paid him $225 for, and which he never delivered to me. ... Pray write to me if you can give me any information of H——d or the picture (W, 17:28-29).

[1836] 11 FEBRUARY. RICHMOND. Poe fails to locate W. J. Hubard and writes John Pendleton Kennedy:

You are nearly, but not altogether right in relation to the satire of some of my Tales. Most of them were intended for half banter, half satire — although I might [page 191:] not have fully acknowledged this to be their aim even to myself. “Lionizing” and “Loss of Breath” were satires properly speaking — at least so meant — the one of the rage for Lions and the facility of becoming one — the other of the extravagancies of Blackwood. I find no difficulty in keeping pace with the demands of the Magazine. In the February number, which is now in the binders hands, are no less than 40 pages of Editorial. ... There was no November number issued. ... Mr. W. has increased my salary, since I wrote, 104$. for the present year. ... He is exceedingly kind in every respect (L, 1:83-85).

[Earlier Poe had mentioned the artist Hubard in his “Memoir of Dr. Rice,” a review in the December 1835 Messenger].

[1836] 12 FEBRUARY. MOBILE, ALABAMA. George Poe, Jr., replies to Poe's letter of 12 January and sends $100 (endorsement, Poe to George Poe, Jr., 12 January 1836).

[1836] 13 FEBRUARY. RICHMOND. The February Messenger publishes Poe's “The Gourd of Jonah,” “The Duc de L’Omelette,” “The Iliad,” “Palaestine,” “Martorelli,” “The Valley Nis,” “New Testament,” “Gibbon and Fox,” “Statius;” “Greece,” “Autography” (Part 1), and critical notices: “Paul Ulric” (Morris Mattson's Paul Ulric: Or the Adventures of an Enthusiast), “Martin's Gazetteer” (Joseph Martin's A New and Comprehensive Gazetteer of Virginia, and the District of Columbia), “Rose-Hill” (anon., Rose-Hill, A Tale of the Old Dominion), “Emilia Harrington” (Lambert A. Wilmer's The Confessions of Emilia Harrington), “American in England” (Alexander Slidell Mackenzie's The American in England), “Conti” (Henry F. Chorley's Conti the Discarded), “Noble Deeds of Woman” ([Jesse Clement's?] Noble Deeds of Woman), “Bulwer's Rienzi” (Edward Bulwer-Lytton's Rienzi, The Last of the Tribunes), and “Roger's Physiology” (Peter Mark Roger's Animal and Vegetable Physiology). Lucian Minor contributes a review entitled “Chief Justice Marshall.”

[1836] 17 FEBRUARY. WASHINGTON. James Frederick Otis reviews the February Messenger in the Daily National Intelligencer (Thomas [1975], p. 14 n.1).

[Many signatures in Poe's “Autography” were those of subscribers (see Messenger wrappers) and contributors to the magazine. Others were sent to Poe by Otis, then a Washington journalist (see Thomas [1975], pp. 12-15, and Mabbott [1978], 2:259-91).]

[1836] BEFORE 20 FEBRUARY. RICHMOND. Poe writes Carey & Lea (Carey & Lea to Poe, 20 February 1836).

[1836] 20 FEBRUARY. PHILADELPHIA. A partner in Carey & Lea, probably Henry C. Carey, writes Poe: “I received your letter this morning, having no knowledge of the MS. mentioned” (Woodberry, 2:375). [page 192:]

[1836] 21 FEBRUARY. RICHMOND. Maria Clemm writes George Poe, Jr.: “I have received to-day from my nephew E A. Poe the sum of one hundred dollars — and which I learn I am to attribute to you. I beg you will accept my sincere gratitude and I now hope I may be enabled to surmount difficulties with which I have had to contend for a long time — particularly since my mothers death — myself and daughter are under the protection of Edgar — he is the Editor of the Southern Literary Messenger — and bids fair to be an honour to our name — he desires me to say any influence you may be able to exercise in behalf of the Messenger will be to his immediate advantage — he desires his respects to you” (Quinn and Hart, p. 15).

[1836] 24 FEBRUARY. John Collins McCabe, a Virginia clergyman and poet, writes Poe (Poe to McCabe, 3 March 1836).

[1836] 3 MARCH. Poe writes John Collins McCabe: “I need not speak to you of the difficulties I have to encounter, daily, in selecting from the mass of M.SS. handed in for The Messenger. Personal applications, from personal friends, of course embarrass me greatly. It is, indeed, almost impossible to refuse an article offered in this manner without giving mortal offence to the friend who offers it. This offence, however, is most frequently taken by those who have the fewest pretensions to merit. In the present instance I feel perfectly sure that I shall neither wound your feelings, nor cause you to think less of me as an acquaintance, by returning your Poem — which I now enclose [Poe declines “The Consumptive Girl”]. ... I have frequently seen pieces from your pen which I would have been happy to insert. ... and some lines lately printed in the Baltimore Athenaum — that great bowl of Editorial skimmed milk and water. ... I know you will reply, and with some appearance of justice, that much worse verses have appeared in the Messenger since my Editorship, and are still appearing. But these are poems which have been long on hand, and to the publication of which Mr. W. [White] had bound himself, by promises to their respective authors, before my time” (L, 2:674-75).

[1836] 3 MARCH. NEW YORK. James Kirke Paulding writes White:

I duly received the Book containing the Tales by Mr. Poe heretofore published in the “Messenger;” and have delayed writing to you on the subject until I could communicate the final decision of the Messrs. Harpers as to their republication. By the way, you are entirely mistaken in your idea of my influence over these gentlemen in the transactions of their business. ... I placed the work in their hands, giving my opinion of it, which was such as I believe I have heretofore expressed to you more than once, leaving them to their own decision.

The[y] have finally declined republishing it for the following reasons: They say the stories have so recently appeared before the Public in the “Messenger” that [page 193:] they would be no novelty — but most especially they object that there is a degree of obscurity in their application, which will prevent ordinary readers from comprehending their drift, and consequently from enjoying the fine satire they convey. It requires a degree of familiarity with various kinds of knowledge which they do not possess, to enable them to relish the joke; the dish is too refined for them to banquet on. They desire me, however, to state to Mr. Poe that if he will lower himself a little to the ordinary comprehension of the generality of readers, and prepare a series of original Tales, or a single work, and send them to the Publishers, previous to their appearance in the “Messenger,” they will make such arrangements with him as will be liberal and satisfactory.

I regret this decision of the Harpers, though I have not opposed it, because I do not wish to lead them into any measure that might be accompanied by a loss, and felt as I would feel for myself in a similar case. I would not press a work of my own upon them, nor do I think Mr. Poe would be gratified at my doing so with one of his.

I hope Mr. Poe will pardon me if the interest I feel in his success should prompt me to take this occasion to suggest to him to apply his fine humor, and his extensive acquirements, to more familiar subjects of satire; to the faults and foibles of our own people, their peculiarities of habits and manners, and above all to the ridiculous affectations and extravagances of the fashionable English Literature of the day, which we copy with such admirable success and servility. His quiz on Willis [“Lion-izing”], and the Burlesque of “Blackwood” [“Loss of Breath”], were not only capital, but what is more, were understood by all. ... Paul Ulric is treated as he should be, but I think Mr. Bulwer's much overrated in the notice of Rienzi. If Mr. Poe will analyze it, he will find it full of obscurities, incongruities, improbabilities, and affectations. Don’t publish this at your Peril! (Paulding, pp. 173-75).

[1836] 6 MARCH. AUGUSTA, GEORGIA. The Chronicle reacts unfavorably to Lucian Minor's article “Liberian Literature” in the February Messenger and disapproves of the Baltimore American's acceptance of it.


James Kirke Paulding [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 194, bottom]
James Kirke Paulding

The February No. of this beautiful and highly interesting work is one of the best, we think, that has yet appeared; and we take pleasure in earnestly recommending it to the attention of the public, and particularly the literary portion of it, as highly creditable to the literary character of the South, and deserving of the most liberal patronage of its people, who ought to cherish and foster such a work with peculiar pride and pleasure. We have one complaint, however, against the present No.; and in this we differ decidedly from the views of the Baltimore American, whose otherwise just and complimentary article we copy, below. We mean its very laudatory article on “Liberian Literature,” which we consider altogether unsuited to our Southern region, and as indicating a dangerous partiality for that most pestiferous and abominable parent of the Abolitionists, the Colonization Society. Such things may, perhaps, be tolerated in Maryland and Virginia; but we can assure the highly esteemed and respected publisher of the Messenger, (who [page 194:] we trust will not doubt the sincerity of our regard both for him and his valuable work,) that they cannot and will not be here, where the people look upon the Colonizationists as part and parcel of the Abolitionists, but more dangerous, because disguising the same infamous object under a pretence of friendship, while the Abolitionists at least deal openly and plainly with us, and are so far the more entitled to respect; and withal, the truly Southern people have no curiosity whatever, in Liberian, alias Negro Literature!! If Mr. WHITE would see the folly, absurdity, and utter futility of the ostensible object of the Colonization Society clearly exposed, let him read the admirable, and unanswerable Essay on Slavery, of his most valuable and able contributor, Professor DEW, which we beg leave earnestly to recommend to his attention, as also that of every other searcher after truth, who has not yet had the good fortune to peruse it.

From the Baltimore American.

“The Southern Literary Messenger for February is, we think, the best of the fifteen numbers that have been published. ...The Duc de L’Omelette, by Edgar A. Poe,” is one of those light, spirited, fantastic inventions, of which we have had specimens before in the Messenger, betokening a fertility of imagination and power of execution, that with discipline, could, under a sustained effort, produce creations of enduring character. We are rejoiced to see in the Southern Literary Messenger, such an article as that headed “Liberian Literature,” in which the prosperity of this Colony is spoken of with, we may say, enthusiastic approbation. ***** The best and also the largest portion of the present number of the Messenger, is the [page 195:] department of critical notices of books. These are the work of a vigorous, sportive, keen pen, that, whether you approve the judgments or not it records, takes captive your attention by the spirit with which it moves. The number ends with the amusing Miller correspondence [Poe's “Autography”], of which we have already spoken.”

[1836] 6 MARCH. LOUISA COURTHOUSE, VIRGINIA. Lucian Minor writes Poe or White (Poe to Minor, 10 March 1836).

[1836] 10 MARCH. RICHMOND. Poe has read the Augusta, Georgia, Chronicle of 6 March and writes Lucian Minor: “Your Marshall article has been very well received in all directions. Grigesby [Hugh Blair Grigsby], of Norfolk, alone spoke ill of it and he speaks ill of every thing. ... Professor Dew is now here, and thinks the whole article every thing it should be. Liberian Literature has met a fate very similar. Lauded by all men of sense, it has excited animadversion from the Augusta Chronicle. The scoundrel says it is sheer abolitionism” (L, 1:87-88).

[1836] BEFORE 17 MARCH. Poe writes James K. Paulding (Paulding to Poe, 17 March 1836).

[1836] 17 MARCH. NEW YORK. James K. Paulding writes Poe in care of T. W. White:

In compliance with your wishes, it would have afforded me much pleasure to have proposed the publication of your Book to some respectable bookseller of this city. But the truth is, there is only one other, who publishes any thing but School Books, religious works and the like, and with him I am not on terms that would make it agreeable to me, to make any proposition of this nature, either in my own behalf or that of another. I have therefore placed your work in the hands of Messrs. Harper's to forward with a Box of Books they are sending to Richmond in a few days, and I hope it will come safely to hand.

I think it would be worth your while, if other engagements permit, to undertake a Tale in a couple of Volumes, for that is the magical number. There is a great dearth of good writers at present both in England and this Country, while the number of readers and purchasers of Books, is daily increasing, So that the demand is greater than the Supply, in mercantile phraze. Not one work in ten, now published in England, will bear republication here. You would be surprised at their excessive mediocrity. I am of opinion that a work of yours, would at least bring you a handsome remuneration, though it might not repay your labours, or meet its merits. Should you write such a work, your best way will be to forward the MS directly to the Harpers, who will be I presume, governed by the judgment of their Reader, who from long experience can tell almost to a certainty what will succeed. I am destitute of this valuable instinct, and my opinion counts for nothing with publishers (Paulding, pp. 177-78). [page 196:]

[1836] AFTER 26 MARCH. RICHMOND. The March Messenger publishes Poe's “Epimanes” (later “Four Beasts in One — The Homo-Cameleopard”) including “Latin Hymn” and “Song of Triumph,” “To Helen,” “Bai” (a filler), “Authors” (a filler), and critical notices: “Episcopal Church in Virginia” (Francis L. Hawks's Contributions to the Ecclesiastical History of the United States of America — Virginia), “Phrenology” (Mrs. L. Miles's Phrenology, and the Moral Influence of Phrenology), “Mahmoud” (anon., Mahmoud), “Georgia Scenes” (Augustus Baldwin Longstreet's Georgia Scenes), and “The Tea Party” (anon., Traits of the Tea Party). Poe is probably the author of an advertisement for Thomas R. Dew's address, printed on the cover:


The Number of the Messenger now issued, has been delayed beyond its usual time, through the Proprietor's desire of publishing Professor Dew's Address. To counterbalance this delay, 16 pages of extra matter are given. — The April Number (which will be speedily put to press) will contain, therefore, 16 pages less than usual.


☞ Will be issued simultaneously with the present Number of the Messenger, a pamphlet edition of Mr. Dew's Address, which the Publisher proposes to dispose of at 25 cents per copy, or 25 copies for $5. ☜

[1836] BEFORE 29 MARCH. MACON, GEORGIA. Washington Poe writes Poe (Poe to William Poe, 12 April 1836).

[1836] 29 MARCH. AUGUSTA, GEORGIA. William Poe writes Poe, enclosing $50 for Maria Clemm (Poe to William Poe, 12 April 1836).

[1836] CA. 30 MARCH. RICHMOND. Poe writes Washington Poe (Poe to William Poe, 12 April 1836).

[1836] 4 APRIL. RICHMOND. White writes Beverley Tucker: “I have just been introduced to Mr. [George] Bancroft. He wishes me to introduce him to Poe (which I have promised to do in the morning) who he says has unintentionally done him some injustice in my last No. — He has all the appearance of a gentleman, — and it strikes me he is one” (Vi-W-TC).

[In a review of Francis L. Hawks's Ecclesiastical History in the March Messenger, Poe criticized George Bancroft for intimating that the Colony of Virginia had been guilty of “disloyalty” during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. In the April Messenger Poe apologized in an editorial on “The Loyalty of Virginia”: “Since the publication of our remarks, a personal interview with Mr. Bancroft, and an examination, especially, of one or two passages in his History, have been sufficient to convince us that injustice (of course, unintentional) has been done that gentleman, not only by ourselves, but by Dr. Hawks and others.”] [page 197:]

[1836] 8 APRIL. NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA. The Newbern Spectator reprints the New York Evening Star's notice of the February Messenger: “The editor [Poe] is rather hard on ‘Paul Ulric.’ We make no comment except that the room appropriated to this subject might have been better occupied. The best and most decided humorous article, though its plan is not original, is the collection of autographs of some of our American authors, Halleck, Irving, &c.”

[1836] 8 APRIL. PHILADELPHIA. In the Philadelphia Gazette Willis Gaylord Clark attacks Poe:

The last number of the Southern Literary Messenger is very readable and respectable. Professor Dew's address is the best article in it, and was worth delaying the number for its insertion. The contributions to the Messenger are much better than the original matter. The critical department of this work, — much as it would seem to boast itself of impartiality and discernment, — is in our opinion, decidedly quacky. There is in it a great assumption of acumen, which is completely unsustained. Many a work has been slashingly condemned therein, of which the critic himself could not write a page, were he to die for it. This affectation of eccentric sternness in criticism, without the power to back one's suit withal, so far from deserving praise, as some suppose, merits the strongest reprehension.

[1836] 9 APRIL. NEW YORK. Theodore S. Fay makes a satirical reply to Poe in the New-York Mirror:

☞ Those who have read the notices of American books in a certain “southern” monthly which is striving to gain notoriety by the loudness of its abuse, may find amusement in the sketch, in another page, entitled “The Successful Novel.” The “Southern Literary Messenger” knows ☞ by experience ☞ what it is to write a successless novel. ☞

The Mirror publishes a squib (“The Successful Novel!!”) in the style of Poe's “Lion-izing,” in which Poe is given the name Bulldog and the Messenger the title Passenger.

[A part of the controversy that led Poe to satirize Fay's Norman Leslie in his “Mystification” (Pollin [1972a], pp. 111-30).]

[1836] 11 APRIL. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. The Georgetown Metropolitan reprints Poe's “To Helen.”

[1836] 12 APRIL. RICHMOND. Poe writes William Poe: “A press of business has hitherto prevented my replying to your kind letter of the 29th March, enclosing $50 to Mrs. Clemm. Your ... assistance so frequently manifested, is ... appreciated by myself as well as by her. ... On the day before receiving your letter I wrote to Washington Poe, Macon, in reply to [page 198:] a favor of his. ... He has become a subscriber to the Messenger. I hope you have received our March number. That for April will follow, I hope, soon” (L, 1:88).

[1836] 12 APRIL. Maria Clemm writes William Poe: “Edgar, a few days since, handed me a note for $50, for which, I learn, I am indebted to your kindness. Accept my sincere gratitude. Will you have the goodness to present to your lady my respects” (Woodberry, 1:378).

[1836] 12 APRIL. Poe replies to Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney, the popular authoress of Hartford, Connecticut, who had complained that the review of her Zinzendorff, and Other Poems in the January Messenger was unduly severe:

At the request of Mr. T. W. White, I take the liberty of replying to your letter of the 6th ult. ... To yourself, personally, we commit our review, with a perfect certainty of being understood. That we have evinced any “severity amounting to unkindness” is an accusation of which you will, I sincerely hope, unhesitatingly acquit us. ... for the last six months, the Editorial duties have been undertaken by myself. Of course, therefore, I plead guilty to all the criticisms of the journal during the period mentioned (L, 1:89-90).

[1836] 12 APRIL. NEW YORK. In the Commercial Advertiser William Leete Stone reprints Willis Gaylord Clark's attack on Poe from the Philadelphia Gazette of 8 April and adds his own barbs:

We are entirely of opinion with the Philadelphia Gazette in relation to the Southern Literary Messenger, and take this occasion to express our total dissent from the numerous and lavish encomiums we have seen bestowed upon its critical notices. Some few of them have been judicious, fair and candid; bestowing praise and censure with judgment and impartiality; but by far the greatest number, of those we have read, have been flippant, unjust, untenable and uncritical. The duty of the critic is to act as judge, not as enemy, of the writer whom he reviews; a distinction of which the Zoilus of the Messenger seems not be aware. It is possible to review a book, severely, without bestowing opprobrious epithets upon the writer: to condemn with courtesy, if not with kindness. The critic of the Messenger has been eulogized for his scorching and scarifying abilities, and he thinks it incumbent upon him to keep up his reputation in that line, by sneers, sarcasm, and downright abuse; by straining his vision with microscopic intensity in search of faults, and shutting his eyes, with all his might, to beauties. Moreover, we have detected him, more than once, in blunders quite as gross as those on which it was his pleasure to descant.

[1836] 15 APRIL. NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA. The Newbern Spectator praises the March Messenger: “One circumstance we cannot but congratulate the Editor upon — viz. the apparent relinquishment of unnecessary and cruel severity in the critical department. Who is there, that, if maimed he must [page 199:] be, would not prefer the infliction from a polished instrument in the hands of a gentlemanlike and feeling operator, rather than from a rusty cleaver, in the hands of a practiced, but unfeeling, smithfield butcher?”

[1836] 22 APRIL. The Newbern Spectator on its front page reprints from the London Court Journal a comic tale entitled “You Can’t Marry Your Grandmother!” by Thomas Haynes Bayly.

[Mabbott (1978, 3:884) thought that Poe's “The Spectacles” might owe something to a farce You Can’t Marry Your Grandmother, by Bayly, first performed in London on 1 March 1838. Poe may have seen this short-story version by Bayly either in the London Court Journal or in an American periodical such as the Spectator.]

[1836] 23 APRIL. HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT. Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney writes Poe:

Please to accept my thanks for your letter of the 12th. ... I am happy to discover the present Editor of my favorite periodical, and also to perceive how much it profits by the guidance of that powerful pen, whose versatile and brilliant creations, I have often admired. ... The contents of a volume of poems, published in 1814 & selected by a friend from journals, written in early youth, without a thought of publication, & another in 1821, were composed before I had heard of Mrs. Hemans, and likewise one of 1827, — most of whose poems were in existence, before I had enjoyed the pleasure of perusing any of hers, — can therefore not be classed as imitations of that pure model (W, 17:33-35).

[1836] BEFORE 26 APRIL. RICHMOND. White writes John Pendleton Kennedy (Kennedy to Poe, 26 April 1836).

[1836] 26 APRIL. BALTIMORE. John Pendleton Kennedy writes Poe that James H. McCulloch, the attorney for William Clemm's children by his first wife, and he “had a long talk, the result of which was to show me that the heirs of Wm. Clemm have no claim to anything. There were debts, advances — and I know not what — that had utterly extinguished the claim of W. Clemm himself. ... I believe he [Hubardl is in Norfolk and my picture perhaps is with him. ... I heartily rejoice to see you thriving so well. Tell Mr. White that I recd. his letter informing me of his daughter's coming to Baltimore but was in Washington on the day he had named for her arrival” (W, 17:32-33).

[1836] AFTER 28 APRIL. RICHMOND. The April Messenger publishes Poe's note on “MSS. of Beni. Franklin,” note to “Genius;” “A Tale of Jerusalem,” “Editorial” (“The Loyalty of Virginia” and a comment on “Chief Justice Marshall”), “Maelzel's Chess-Player,” filler (“Lucian calls unmeaning verbosity, [page 200:] anemonae verborum ... ”), note on T. S. Fay's Norman Leslie, introduction to the “Supplement,” and two critical notices: “Drake-Halleck” (Joseph Rodman Drake's The Culprit Fay, and Other Poems and Fitz-Greene Halleck's Alnwick Castle, with Other Poems) and “Brunnens of Nassau” (anon., Bubbles from the Brunnens of Nassau).

[In his “Drake-Halleck” review Poe replied to the attacks of T. S. Fay, W. G. Clark, and W. L. Stone and asserted that “it has been our constant endeavor, since assuming the Editorial duties of this journal, to stem, with what little abilities we possess, a current so disastrously undermining the health and prosperity of our literature. ... Mr. C. [Clark] has a right to think us quacky if he pleases. ... Stone's charges Poe answered in detail. “Slavery” (a review of William Drayton's The South Vindicated ... and J. K. Paulding's Slavery in the United States) in this issue is the work of Beverley Tucker. Rosenthal, pp. 29-38, argued for Poe's authorship. Poe dedicated his Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque to William Drayton. “Some Ancient Greek Authors,” also in the April Messenger, has been assigned to Poe by Benjamin Blake Minor (p. 42), Margaret Alterton (p. 106), Campbell (1936: 487-88), Jackson (1933: 258-67; 1934a: 368), and Hull (p. 121).]

The Supplement includes these testimonials:

... a jeu d’esprit from Mr. Poe — some of the reviews — and a page or two of descriptions — together with a very few metrical lines — make the sum total of light reading. ... The reviews are, as usual, piquant and lively, and in that style which will teach writers to value the praise and dread the censures of the critic. — Charlottesville Advocate, quoting the Richmond Compiler.

Epimanes. — This is one of Poe's queerities. He takes the reader back in supposition to the city of Antioch, in the year of the world 3830, and in that peculiar style, which after all must be called Poe-tical, because it is just that and nothing else, he feigns the enactment of a real scene of the times before your eyes. The actors “come like shadows, so depart,” — but yet assume a most vivid reality while they stay. We hope this powerful pen will be again similarly employed.

To Helen” is a pretty little gem, and from the same mine. It shall glisten in the Patriot ere long. ... Then follow “Critical Notices.” These are written by POE. They are few and clever. The sledge-hammer and scimetar are laid aside, and not one poor devil of an author is touched, except one “Mahmoud,” who is let off with a box on the ear for plagiarism. The review of “Georgia Scenes” has determined us to buy the book. The extracts are irresistible. — Baltimore Patriot.

Of the value of the [reading] matter, or rather of its value in comparison with such ephemera as those just mentioned [Paul Ulric and Norman Leslie], it is of course unnecessary to say much. ... Epimanes. By Edgar A. Poe — an historical tale in which, by imaginary incidents, the character of Antiochus Epiphanes is vividly depicted. It differs essentially from all the other tales of Mr. Poe. Indeed no two of [page 201:] his articles bear more than a family resemblance to one another. They all differ widely in matter, and still more widely in manner. Epimanes will convince all who read it that Mr. P is capable of even higher and better things.

To Helen — by the same author — a sonnet full of quiet grace — we quote it in full. ...  . The Critical Notices maintain their lofty reputation. ...Norfolk Herald.

... its editor wields the gray goose quill like one who knows what he is about, and who has a right to. Commend us to the literary notices of this Magazine for genius, spice and spirit. Those which are commendatory, are supported by the real merit of the books themselves; but woe seize on the luckless wights who feel the savage skill with which the editor uses his tomahawk and scalping knife. The fact is, the Messenger is not given to the mincing of matter — what it has to say is said fearlessly. — Cincinnati Mirror.

Smarting under Criticism. — Fay can’t bear criticism. The Southern Literary Messenger cut him up sharply — and Fay has retorted — evincing that the sting rankles. A pity. — [John Neal?] Boston Galaxy.

There is one department which we admire — the editorial criticisms. Racy, pungent, and reasonable, the editor writes as one disposed to test the true elements of authorship, and to weigh pretentions with achievements in the opposite scale. He has gently, yet with almost too daring a hand, taken apart the poetical attire of two or three ladies, whose writings have long been ranked among the better specimens of American poetry. ... American prose writers and novelists are led under this keen critic's knife, as sheep to the slaughter. In the name of literature we thank Mr. White for his criticisms, that must purify the literary, as lightning does the natural atmosphere. — Natchez Christian Herald.

We are struck, in the Messenger, with this good point: the extent of literary intelligence which it affords, by an unusual number of critical notices of new publications, is exceedingly well judged. Its criticisms, too, are in a sounder and more discriminating taste, than that which infects the Magazines of the North, turning them all into the mere vehicles of puffery for each man's little set of associates in scribbling — and partners in literary iniquity. ... its Editorial articles are decidedly the best that it contains. They seem to be almost uniformly good. — Columbia (Ga.) Times.

The critiques are particularly good, and evidence a mind feelingly alive to the literary reputation of our country. The collection of autographs will be examined with much interest. — Washington Sun.

The Critical Notices are peculiarly meritorious and sensible. The Messenger is now under the editorial guidance of Edgar A. Poe, a gentleman highly distinguished for his literary taste and talent. — Tuscaloosa Flag of the Union.

We miss the racy and condemnatory criticism that distinguishes the work [in the March issue], and which has been favorable to the production of good books. — [Philadelphia] U.S. Gazette.

That Mr. Poe, the reputed editor of the Messenger, is a gentleman of brilliant [page 202:] genius and endowments, is a truth which I believe, will not be controverted by a large majority of its readers. For one, however, I confess, that there are occasionally manifested some errors of judgment — or faults in taste — or whatever they may be called, which I should be glad to see corrected. I do not think, for example, that such an article as “the Duc De L’Omelette;” in the number under consideration, ought to have appeared. That kind of writing, I know, may plead high precedents in its favor; but that it is calculated to produce effects permanently injurious to sound morals, I think will not be doubted by those who reflect seriously upon the subject. Mr. Poe is too fond of the wild — unnatural and horrible! Why will he not permit his fine genius to soar into purer, brighter, and happier regions? Why will he not disenthral himself from the spells of German enchantment and supernatural imagery? There is room enough for the exercise of the highest powers, upon the multiform relations of human life without descending into the dark mysterious and unutterable creations of licentious fancy. When Mr. Poe passes from the region of shadows, into the plain practical dissecting room of criticism, he manifests great dexterity and power. He exposes the imbecility and rottenness of our ad captandum popular literature, with the hand of a master. The public I believe was much delighted with the admirable scalping of “Norman Leslie,” in the December number, and likewise of Mr. Simms’ “Partisan,” in the number for January; and it will be no less pleased at the caustic severity with which the puerile abortion of “Paul Ulric” is exposed in the present number. ... The Review of “Rienzi,” too, the last novel of Bulwer, is written in Mr. Poe's best style, — but I must be permitted to dissent toto cœlo from his opinion, that the author of that work is unsurpassed as a novelist by any writer living or dead. — There is no disputing about tastes, but according to my poor judgment, a single work might be selected from among the voluminous labors of Walter Scott, worth all that Bulwer has ever written, or ever will write — and this I believe will be the impartial verdict of posterity ... The notices ... are all very spirited articles, and are greatly superior to papers of the same description in the very best monthly periodicals of our country. The last article “Autography” is not exactly to my taste, though there are doubtless many who would find in it food for merriment .... there is a deep poetical inspiration about Mr. Poe's “Valley Nis;” which would be more attractive if his verses were smoother, and his subject matter less obscure and unintelligible. Mr. Poe will not consent to abide with ordinary mortals. — A correspondent “X. Y Z.” in the Richmond Compiler.

[“The Richmond papers were all friendly to the Messenger; but the Compiler particularly so. It was then edited by Gallagher [John Gallaher] and also had a correspondent, X. Y Z., whose observations upon the Messenger were fair, discriminative and independent. They probably had some influence. I think X. Y Z. was Judge John Robertson, the author of ‘Riego, or the Spanish Martyr’ ” (Minor, p. 50). See also Bondurant, pp. 146, 169-70, 234.]

Our critical correspondent of the 22d, is not borne out, in some of his remarks, by public opinion. We allude to his observations on the Duc de L’Omelette, and Mr. Poe's Autography. These articles are eliciting the highest praise from the highest [page 203:] quarters. Of the Duc de L’Omelette, the Baltimore American, (a paper of the first authority and hitherto opposed to Mr. P.) says: “The Duc de L’Omelette, by Edgar A. Poe, is one of those light, spirited, fantastic inventions, of which we have had specimens before in the Messenger, betokening a fertility of imagination, and power of execution, that would, under a sustained effort, produce creations of an enduring character.” The Petersburg Constellation copies the entire “Autography,” with high commendations, and of the Duc de L’Omelette, says, “of the lighter contributions, of the diamonds which sparkle beside the more sombre gems, commend us, thou spirit of eccentricity! to our favorite, Edgar A. Poe's ‘Duc de L’Omelette, the best thing of the kind we ever have, or ever expect to read.” These opinions seem to be universal. In justice to Mr. Poe, and as an offset to the remarks of our correspondent, we extract the following notice of the February number from the National Intelligencer — Richmond Compiler.

“The Duc de L’Omelette” ... is one of the best things of the kind we have ever read. Mr. Poe has great powers, and every line tells in all he writes. He is no spinner-out of long yarns, but chooses his subject, whimsically, perhaps, yet originally, and treats it in a manner peculiarly his own. ... “Palæstine” is a useful article, containing geographical, topographical, and other statistical facts in the history of that interesting country, well put together and valuable as a reference. ... [His] “Valley Nis” [is] characteristically wild, yet sweetly soft and smooth in measure as in mood. ... In the “Editorial Department,” we recognise the powerful discrimination of Mr. Poe. The dissection of “Paul Ulric,” though well deserved, is perfectly savage. Morris Mattson, Esq. will hardly write again. This article will as surely kill him as one not half so scalpingly written did poor Keats, in the London Quarterly. The notice of Lieutenant Slidell's “American in England” we were glad to see. It is a fair offset to the coxcombical article (probably written by Norman Leslie Fay) which lately appeared in the New York Mirror, in reference to our countryman's really agreeable work. Bulwer's “Rienzi” is ably reviewed, and in a style to beget in him who reads it a strong desire to possess himself immediately of the book itself. ... The number closes with a most amusing paper containing twenty-five admirably executed fac simile autographs of some of the most distinguished of our literati. The equivoque of Mr. Joseph A. B. C. D. E. F. G. &c Miller is admirably kept up, and the whimsical character of the pretended letters to which the signatures are attached is well preserved. Of almost all the autographs we can speak on our own authority, and are able to pronounce them capital. — [J. F. Otis in the Washington] National Intelligencer [17 February].

The editorial articles are vigorous and original, as usual. ... “Epimanes” displays a rich, but extravagant fancy. “To Helen;” is pretty and classic, from the same hand — we give it in our next. ... “Georgia Scenes” makes a capital article, and has excited, in our mind, a great curiosity to see the book. — Georgetown Metropolitan [8 April].

... Edgar A. Poe's sketch “The Duc de L’Omelette,” is the best thing of the kind we have seen from him yet. ... The Critical Notices are better by far, than those in any other magazine in the country. Paul Ulric is too small game for the tremendous demolition he has received — a club of iron has been used to smash a [page 204:] fly. ... We agree with all the other critiques except that of Bulwer's Rienzi. The most extraordinary article in the book and the one which will excite most attention, is its tail piece, in which an American edition of Frazer's celebrated Miller hoax has been played off on the American Literati with great success — and better than all, an accurate fac simile of each autograph given along with it. This article is extremely amusing, and will excite more attention than probably any thing of the kind yet published in an American periodical. It is quite new for this part of the world. — Georgetown Metropolitan.

“The Duc de L’Omelette, by Edgar A. Poe” is one of those light, spirited, fantastic inventions, of which we have had specimens before in the Messenger, betokening a fertility of imagination and power of execution, that with discipline could, under a sustained effort, produce creations of an enduring character .... The best and also the largest portion of the present number of the Messenger is the department of critical notices of books . ...  . The number ends with the amusing Miller correspondence, of which we have already spoken. — [William Bose, editor,] Baltimore American.

Of the lighter contributions, of the diamonds which sparkle beside the more sombre gems, commend us, thou spirit of eccentricity! forever and a day to our favorite Edgar A. Poe's Duc de L’Omelette — the best thing of the kind we ever have or ever expect to read .... Of the criticisms, the most are good; that on Mr. Morris Mattson's novel of “Paul Ulric,” like a former criticism from the same pen on Fay's “Norman Leslie” is a literal “flaying alive!” a carving up into “ten thousand atoms!” a complete literary annihilation! If Mr. Morris Mattson is either courageous or wise, he will turn upon his merciless assailant as Byron turned upon Jeffrey, and prove that he can not only do better things, but that he deserves more lenient usage! ... We copy the whole article [“Autography”] as a literary treat .... — [Hiram Haines, editor,] Petersburg Constellation.

The critical notices are written in a nervous style and with great impartiality and independence. — [Neilson Poe?) Baltimore Chronicle.

.... the Southern Literary Messenger is equal in interest and excellence to any Monthly Periodical in the country ....Boston Mercantile Journal.

The review of Paul Ulric is written with great freedom and unusual severity. The reviewer wields a formidable weapon . ...  . the article on Autography is a treat of no common order. We have seen nothing of the kind before in an American periodical. — [Hugh Blair Grigsby, editor,] Norfolk Beacon.

... the ‘great feature’ of this [February] No. is an Editorial critique on Mr. Morris Mattson's novel of “Paul Ulric,” which is tomahawked and scalped after the manner of a Winnebago . ... The concluding paper ... embraces the autographs, quaintly introduced and oddly accompanied, of twenty-four of the most distinguished literary personages of our country . ...New Yorker.

Its criticisms we pronounce to be at once the boldest and most generally correct of any we meet with. — Natchez Courier.

T. W. White prints a notice on the cover: [page 205:]


There being a report, in New York and elsewhere, that Mr. Simms, Author of the Partisan, is the Editor of the Messenger, I take this method of stating that such is not the fact.

[1836] APRIL? Poe composes “May Queen Ode” for Harriet Virginia Scott, who lives on Main Street (Mabbott [1969], 1:302).

[1836] APRIL. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. The anonymous author of “Reminiscences of a Tour to the South-West. Number One” in the Southern Literary Journal writes: “We took up a number of the ‘Southern Literary Messenger,’ a Monthly published in the ‘Old Dominion, and a capital one it is — every way worthy of the place from which it is issued, and of the extensive patronage it has hitherto received.”

[1836] 2 MAY. RICHMOND. Poe writes Beverley Tucker:

At Mr. White's request I write to apologise for the omission of your verses “To a Coquette” in the present number of the Messenger .... I must also myself beg your pardon for making a few immaterial alterations in your article on Slavery, with a view of so condensing it as to get it in the space remaining at the end of the number. One very excellent passage in relation to the experience of a sick bed has been, necessarily, omitted altogether. It would give me great pleasure to hear your opinion of the February, and of the April number of the Messenger — I mean of the Editorial articles .... Please present my best respects to Professor Dew . ... Will you ask Mr Saunders what has become of the article he promised us? (L, 1:90-91; Vi-W-TC).

[Here Poe may be referring to the “Slavery” review in the April Messenger. See AFTER 28 APRIL.]

[1836] 3 MAY. AUGUSTA, GEORGIA. Stephen G. Bulfinch writes Poe (Poe to Bulfinch, 8 June 1836).

[1836] 10 MAY. PHILADELPHIA. Willis Gaylord Clark in the Philadelphia Gazette attacks Poe again (Moss [1963], p. 50).

[1836] 13 MAY. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. The Charleston Courier, without mentioning his name, finds in the April Messenger Poe's “highly ingenious attempt to shew that MAELZEL's Chess Player is not a pure machine, but regulated by mind — by a human agent concealed within it.”

[This notice was reprinted in the Supplement of the July Messenger, 2:523.]

[1836] 14 MAY. ESSEX COUNTY, VIRGINIA. James M. Garnett writes White, complaining that his lectures have not been printed as promised (ViHi). [page 207:]

Poe's marriage bond [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 206]
Poe”s marriage bond

[1836] 16 MAY. RICHMOND. Poe and Thomas W. Cleland sign a marriage bond for Poe's marriage to Virginia E. Clemm, and Cleland gives an oath that Virginia is “of the full age of twenty-one years.” The Reverend Amasa Converse, a Presbyterian minister and the editor of the Southern Religious Telegraph, marries Poe and Virginia in the presence of T. W. White and his daughter Eliza, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas W. Cleland, William McFarlane, John W. Fergusson, Mrs. James Yarrington, Maria Clemm, and Jane Foster (W, 1:115; Allen, pp. 318-20; Phillips, 1:529-34; Quinn, pp. 253-54).

[1836] 17 MAY. PETERSBURG, VIRGINIA. Poe and Virginia are entertained by Hiram Haines, Dr. W. M. Robinson, and E. V. Sparhawk (Phillips, 1:532-33; Ostrom [1942], pp. 67-71).

[1836] 17 MAY. BOSTON. Jared Sparks, Professor of History at Harvard University, writes Poe or White (Poe to Sparks, 23 May 1836).

[1836] 20 MAY. RICHMOND. The Richmond Whig reports: “Married, on Monday May 16th, by the Reverend Mr. [Amass] Converse, Mr. Edgar A. Poe to Miss Virginia Clemm.”

[A similar announcement appeared in the Richmond Enquirer. The Norfolk Herald also called attention to the marriage (see the Supplement to the July Messenger, AFTER 13 JULY).]

[1836] 21 MAY. NEW YORK. In his tale “The Three Editors of China,” in the New-York Mirror, Theodore S. Fay criticizes Poe (Pollin [1972a], pp. 111-30).

[1836] 23 MAY. RICHMOND. Poe writes Jared Sparks: “The M.S.S. from which we publish are not in our immediate possession — but in that of Mr Wm Duane Jr of Philadelphia .... I mean to say, of course, that this collection is in the hand-writing of [Benjamin] Franklin. Mr D. transcribes the M.S. for our use” (L, 1:91).

[1836] 23 MAY. White writes Mathew Carey, of Philadelphia, soliciting his aid in increasing the circulation of the Messenger (Casey to White, 30 May, TxU-HRCL).

[1836] 27 MAY. White writes B. Badger, editor of the New York Weekly Messenger: “I accidentally fell in with the ‘New York Weekly Messenger’ this morning, — and was pleased to recognize in its editor one with whom I was once personally acquainted during my sojourn in Boston — which city I most unluckily abandoned, in April 1817, for a residence in this my native place .... If ... I can enter upon 3d Volume [of the Messenger] [page 208:] with 12 or 1300 paying subscribers all will be well — otherwise my loss will be very great, for up to the present time my expenses in rearing it to what it is, have greatly run ahead of my actual receipts” (VtMiM).

[1836] CA. 27 MAY. The May Messenger publishes Poe's note to “MSS of Benj. Franklin;” “Sonnet — To Science,” “The Corpus Juris,” “Alliteration;” “Irene” (“The Sleeper”), “Editorial: Lynch's Law;” and critical notices: “Spain Revisited” (Alexander Slidell Mackenzie's Spain Revisited), “Anthon's Sallust” (Charles Anthon's Sallust's Jugurthine War ...), “Paris and the Parisians” (Frances Trollope's Paris and the Parisians in 1835), “Paulding's Washington” (James Kirke Paulding's A Life of Washington), “Walsh's Didactics” (Robert Walsh's Didactics — Social, Literary, and Political), and “Cooper's Switzerland” (James Fenimore Cooper's Sketches of Switzerland). To “Mellen's Poems” (a review of Grenville Mellen's The Martyr's Triumph; Buried Valley; and other Poems) Poe adds a footnote: “We have received this notice ... from a personal friend [J. F. Otis?], in whose judgment we have implicit reliance — of course we cannot deviate from our rules by adopting the criticism as Editorial.”

[1836] MAY? Poe, Virginia, and Maria Clemm move to a tenement on Seventh Street (Allen, p. 321).

[1836] MAY? Elmira Royster, now Mrs. Shelton, meets the Poes: “I remember seeing Edgar, & his lovely wife, very soon after they were married — I met them — I never shall forget my feelings at the time — They were indescribable, almost agonizing” (Sarah Elmira Royster Shelton to Maria Clemm, 22 September 1849; Quinn and Hart [1941], p. 27).

[1836] JUNE. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. The Southern Literary Journal publishes “The Puffing System,” in which the editor Daniel K. Whitaker denounces the “puffing” practiced by American magazines. Whitaker alludes to the Southern Literary Messenger (see JULY 1836).

[1836] 3 JUNE. RICHMOND. Poe writes James H. Causten of Washington, inquiring if he will “investigate and conduct” a claim which Maria Clemm may have against the United States Government for her father's services during the American Revolution (L, 1:91-93).

[1836] 3 JUNE. Poe writes Harper & Brothers (Harper & Brothers to Poe, 19 June 1836).

[1836] 3 JUNE. Poe signs a printed receipt issued to George W. Pollard of [page 209:] Hanover C. H., Virginia, acknowledging his payment of five dollars for “Subscription to Vol. II” of the Messenger (document in ViRPM).

[The list of subscribers printed on the inside front cover of the June Messenger included Pollard and John Jacob Astor of New York.]

[1836] 4 JUNE. Poe writes Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney (Sigourney to Poe, 11 June 1836).

[1836] BEFORE 7 JUNE. PHILADELPHIA. Robert Montgomery Bird writes Poe (Poe to Bird, 7 June 1836).

[1836] CA. 7 JUNE. RICHMOND. Poe writes Sarah Josepha Hale (Poe to Hale, 20 October 1836).

[1836] 7 JUNE. Poe writes Robert Montgomery Bird: “Can you not aid us — with a single page if no more?” (L, 1:93).

[1836] 7 JUNE. Poe writes James Fenimore Cooper: “At the request of Mr. T. W. White, I take the liberty of addressing you and of soliciting some little contribution to our Southern Literary Messenger” (L, 1:94).

[1836] 7 JUNE. Poe writes Fitz-Greene Halleck: “Send us any little scrap in your port-folio — it will be sure to answer” (L, 1:94-95).

[1836] 7 JUNE. Poe writes Washington Irving and solicits a contribution to the Messenger (L, 2:676-77 [1966]).

[1836] 7 JUNE. Poe writes John Pendleton Kennedy: “Mr White, having purchased a new house, at $10,000, made propositions to my aunt to rent it to her, and to board himself and family with her .... I obtained credit for some furniture &c to the amount of $200, above what little money I had .... it appears that the house will barely be large enough for one family, and the scheme is laid aside — leaving me now in debt . ... I would be greatly indebted to you for the loan of $100 for 6 months .... It is our design to issue, as soon as possible, a number of the Magazine consisting entirely of articles from our most distinguished literati .... Could you ... send a scrap ... ? ... I presume you have heard of my marriage” (L, 1:95-96).

[1836] 7 JUNE? Poe writes James K. Paulding (Paulding to Poe; fragment in Messenger, 2 [July 1836]: 517). [page 210:]

[1836] AFTER 7 JUNE? NEW YORK. James K. Paulding writes Poe: “I should not hesitate in placing the ‘Messenger’ decidedly at the head of our periodicals, nor do I hesitate in expressing that opinion freely on all occasions. It is gradually growing in the public estimation, and under your conduct, and with your contributions, must soon, if it is not already, be known all over the land” (Messenger, 2 [July 1836]: 517).

[1836] AFTER 7 JUNE? NEW YORK? Fitz-Greene Halleck writes Poe: “There is no place where I shall be more desirous of seeing my humble writings than in the publication you so ably support and conduct. It is full of sound, good literature, and its frank, open, independent manliness of spirit, is characteristic of the land it hails from” (Messenger, 2 [July 1836]: 517).

[1836] AFTER 7 JUNE? NEWBURGH, NEW YORK? Washington Irving writes Poe: “You have given sufficient evidence on various occasions, not only of critical knowledge but of high independence; your praise is therefore of value, and your censure not to be slighted. Allow me to say that I think your article on Drake and Halleck one of the finest pieces of criticism ever published in this country” (Messenger, 2 [July 1836]: 517).

[This letter is ascribed to Irving without conclusive evidence. See Watts, pp. 249-51.]

[1836] 8 JUNE. RICHMOND. Poe writes Stephen G. Bulfinch: “I look, with much interest, for your promised Notice of Mr Perdicaris’ Lectures .... We would be glad, indeed, to publish any thing either from him [Perdicaris] or from yourself. Please give my best respects to my cousins, Robert F. Poe and William” (L, 2:677-78 [1966]).

[1836] BEFORE 11 JUNE. Poe writes James Frederick Otis, a reporter for the Washington Daily National Intelligencer (Otis to Poe, 11 June 1836).

[1836] 11 JUNE. HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT. Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney writes Poe: “I send at your request, what I happen to have by me” (W, 17:37-38).

[1836] 11 JUNE. WASHINGTON. James Frederick Otis writes Poe, enclosing autographs for the August installment of Poe's “Autography”:

I have just come out of the House of Reps. after a session of Twenty Five Hours — jaded, tired, and nipped. So pray bear this in mind as, you peruse my letter in reply to yours, apologetical. I pray you think no more of that. As regards all my pieces to you I say with Pope [page 211:]

“— pray take ’em, —

I’m all submission: what you’d have ‘em, make ’em!”

Indeed I’ll do something for you in the course of a week or two, but at present I am “used up:” —

Tell our good friend T. W. White so, an you please — I actually could not get health, breath, or time, to do the notice he wrote about. — Shall write him soon.

Also tell him, Evans relucts [sic] at having letters sent him when franked by distant correspondents, these people he does not know. I think this should not be. —

And now a word or two, autographical. I send you a collection.

The GEORGE LUNT is characteristic. He dwells in Newburyport, (Mass.) — is the author of “The Grave of Byron, and other Poems.” — a clever fellow, a lawyer & Senator of Mass: about 30 years of age.

The WILLIS is all I can do for you. I have letters of his at my residence at home. —

JAMES BROOKS is something of a literary lion just now. This autograph is perfect. — Residence Portland Maine.

The G MELLEN is also good. He sometimes writes it as this — GRENVILLE MELLEN. The enclosed is genuine. His home is Cambridge Mass.

I send you one of Noah & Stone, which I happened to have.

WILLIAM CUTTER is genuine. Resides in Portland Maine. A merchant. Educated man. Young. Fine poet.

P. MELLEN's autograph is genuine. He was Chief Justice of Maine until last year, when he was legally disqualified from holding that office by reason of his having attained the age of 70. A fine writer: in the full vigor of his intellect. Portland, Maine.

Miss Gould's is only genuine in the initials. — The rest I believe I added some years ago. — It is at your service. Newburyport, Mass.

Mrs. Stephens is editress of the Portland Magazine. Portland, Maine.

The Downing is also positively genuine. I will vouch for its being from the pen of the Veritable. — Downingville. Down East.

Harrison Gray Otis's autograph may have some value with your readers. I need add nothing as to it. It is a fair specimen, & will be recognised all over the country.

Hoping this dozen will do you some good, and promising you my aid to obtain more ... (Thomas [1975], pp.12-13).

[1836] AFTER 16 JUNE. RICHMOND. The June Messenger publishes Poe's note to “Right of Instruction,” note to “MSS. of Benjamin Franklin,” “Otto Venius,” “Editorial: Right of Instruction,” note addressed to the editor of the Southern Literary Journal, Charleston, and critical notices: “Letters on Pennsylvania” (A Pleasant Peregrination through the Prettiest Parts of Pennsylvania by Peregrine Prolix [William Burke?]), “Armstrong's Notices” (John Armstrong's [page 212:] Notices of the War of 1812), “Recollections of Coleridge” (Letters, Conversations and Recollections of S. T. Coleridge), “Colton's New Work” (Calvin Colton's Thoughts on the Religious State of the Country), “Ups and Downs” (William Leete Stone's Ups and Downs in the Life of a Distressed Gentleman), “Watkins Tottle” (Charles Dickens’ Watkins Tottle, and Other Sketches), “Flora and Thalia” (anon., Flora and Thalia).

[1836] 17 JUNE. NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA. The Newbern Spectator reviews the May Messenger at great length, attacking Poe as a critic: “With the talent available in any particular spot in the southern country, it is out of the question, truly ridiculous to assume the tone of a Walsh, a Blackwood or a Jeffries; and to attempt it, without the means to support the pretension, tends to accelerate the downfall of so indiscreet an attempt.”

[In the July Messenger Poe reprinted the Spectator's review and replied to it. See AFTER 13 JULY.]

[1836] 18 JUNE. RICHMOND. Poe writes Peter S. Du Ponceau, a Philadelphia lawyer, soliciting a contribution to the Messenger (L, 2:678-79 [1966]).

[1836] 18 JUNE. Poe writes Francis Lieber, a distinguished scholar and professor of political economy at South Carolina College, soliciting a contribution to the Messenger (Emerson Society Quarterly, No. 51 [2nd Quarter 1968]: pt. 2, p. 51. See also Ostrom [1974], pp. 514-15).

[1836] 19 JUNE. NEW YORK. Harper & Brothers write Poe:

... the MSS. to which you refer have reached you safely, as we learn from Mr. Paulding, who has been so informed we presume by Mr. White.

The reasons why we declined publishing them were threefold. First, because the greater portion of them had already appeared in print — Secondly, because they consisted of detached tales and pieces; and our long experience has taught us that both these are very serious objections to the success of any publication. Readers in this country have a decided and strong preference for works (especially fiction) in which a single and connected story occupies the whole volume, or number of volumes, as the case may be; and we have always found that republications of magazine articles, known to be such, are the most unsaleable of all literary performances. The third objection was equally cogent. The papers are too learned and mystical. They would be understood and relished only by a very few — not by the multitude ....

We are pleased with your criticisms generally — although we do not always agree with you in particulars, we like the bold, decided, energetic tone of your animadversions, and shall take pleasure in forwarding to you all the works we publish — or at least such of them as are worthy of your notice .... The last number of the Messenger came to hand last evening and in our opinion fully [page 213:] sustains the high character which it has acquired for itself. The notices of the Life of Washington, and Sallust we presume will prove highly pleasing to Mr. Paulding and Professor Anthon (Quinn, pp. 250-51).

[1836] 28 JUNE. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. Francis Lieber, en route to Puerto Rico for a vacation, writes Poe (Messenger, 2 [August 1836]: 535-38).

[1836] JUNE? NEW YORK AND OTHER CITIES. Charles Anthon, Robert Walsh, Alexander Slidell (later Mackenzie), and Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney write Poe or White, promising to contribute to the Messenger and praising its “Editorial course” (cited by Poe, Messenger, 2 [July 1836]: 517)

[1836] 1 JULY? CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. In its “From Our Arm-Chair Department” the Southern Literary Journal for July prints an unsigned article on “American Criticism and Critics” by William Gilmore Simms:

A very able periodical published in Virginia, entitled the “Southern Literary Messenger” is the next on our list. It is probably superior in some of its departments to most of those of which we have spoken. It possesses decidedly more originality and is very spirited and racy. Its criticisms betray, in most cases, but little of the spirit of puffing — on the contrary, the editor [Poe] seems resolute to avoid any such charge, and knows no better way than to rush into the opposite extreme. He is harsh in his reviews of many of the popular writers, and allows none of their faults to escape him. He has his favorites, it is true, but his bias seems rather the result of intimacy and habitual deference, than of any mean or mercenary disposition to conciliate. So far from universally puffing, he does not often praise; and he discriminates more justly, where he does so, than all the rest of our periodicals. It is to this journal, however, — which is so resolute to avoid puffing others — that our editor's [Daniel K. Whitaker's] charge more directly refers of puffing itself, by publishing, on a fair proportion of its pages, the friendly opinion of other periodicals of its own pretensions. Justice should have prompted our editor, boldly to have designated the one journal, in blaming which, he has left a more general and unjustifiable charge against the whole.

Whitaker remarks:

In this connection, we will say that we are glad to see that the Southern Literary Messenger has abandoned the practice of reprinting in its own pages the voluminous newspaper encomiums that are every month so generously and so justly paid to it . ... When it [the Messenger] intimates, however, that we are “disposed to unite with the Knickerbocker and New-York Mirror, in covert, and therefore unmanly thrusts at the Messenger,” we confess, that we are quite unable to understand the meaning of such language .... There certainly is no concert between us and the Mirror to injure the Messenger, either by manly or “unmanly thrusts.” [page 214:]

[Mott, pp. 664-65, identified the Journal's anonymous correspondent as Simms.]

[1836] 4 JULY. RICHMOND. Poe writes Lewis Cass, a former governor of the Michigan Territory, soliciting an article for the Messenger (L, 2:679-80 [1966]).

[1836] 7 JULY. NEW YORK. The New York Transcript attacks Poe (White to William Scott, 25 August 1836).

[1836] 8 JULY. NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA. The Newbern Spectator finds the editorial criticisms in the June Messenger “unobjectionable and just.”

[1836] AFTER 13 JULY. RICHMOND. The July Messenger publishes Poe's introduction to “MSS. of John Randolph,” “Paradise Lost” (a filler), “Letter to B——,” note to the “Supplement,” and critical notices: “House of Lords” (Anne Grant's Random Recollections of the House of Lords), “Sigourney's Letters” (Mrs. Lydia H. Sigourney's Letters to Young Ladies), “The Doctor” (Robert Southey's The Doctor, &c.), “Raumer's England” (Frederick von Raumer's England in 1835, translated by Sarah Austin and H. E. Lloyd), “Memoirs of an American Lady” (Anne Grant's Memoirs of an American Lady), “Camperdown” (anon., Camperdown), “Erato” (William D. Gallagher's Erato), “Life on the Lakes” (anon., Life on the Lakes), and “Russia and the Russians” (Leigh Ritchie's Russia and the Russians).

In the Supplement Poe reprints the 17 June attack on his literary criticism from the Newbern Spectator. He replies: “We are at a loss to know who is the editor of the Spectator, but have a shrewd suspicion that he is the identical gentleman who once sent us from Newbern an unfortunate copy of verses .... If the Editor of this little paper does not behave himself we will positively publish his verses.” Poe quotes commendatory letters he has received from Halleck, Paulding, and an unnamed author, probably Washington Irving.

[Both Benjamin Blake Minor and Margaret Alterton suggested that Poe might have written the tale “Erostratus” in the July Messenger (Minor, p. 49; Alterton, p. 107). Bandy (1982), p. 85, established that William Duane, Jr., was its author.]

The Supplement contains the following extracts from newspapers:

We do not agree by any means with some of its literary conclusions. For instance, it is very wide of our opinion on the merits of Halleck ... but there is a vigor and manliness in most of the papers that appear in the Messenger, which we are most ready to admit, are found no where else in American periodicals . ... its criticisms [page 215:] ... though sometimes a little too tomahawkish, have, generally speaking, a great deal of justice on their side. — Augusta Chronicle, quoting the New York Courier and Enquirer.

... in spite of the acknowledged ability with which it is conducted, and the admitted talents of its principal contributors (Judge Hopkinson, Professor Dew, Rbt. Greenhow, Heath, Timothy Flint, Edgar Poe, Judge Tucker, Groesbeck, Minor, Carter, Maxwell and a host of others) ... we find our citizens regard the work with apathy . ... “The Hall of Incholese” by J. N. McJilton should not have been admitted into the columns of the Messenger. It is an imitation of the Editor's tale of Bon-Bon, and like most imitations, utterly unworthy of being mentioned in comparison with its original .... The Editorial Department is (as it invariably is,) full, bold, vigorous and original .... Praise and blame are distributed with the soundest discrimination, and with an impartiality, (even in the case of known friends,) which it is impossible not to admire; or to impeach . ... Two pieces by Mr. Poe are very beautiful; the one entitled “Irene,” in especial, is full of his rich and well-disciplined imagination. — Richmond Compiler.

The long and able article on Maelzel's Chess Player ... does credit to the close observation and acute reasoning of its author, who, as the article is published under the editorial head, we infer is the talented editor himself. The question whether or not the chess-player is a pure machine, is, we think, completely put to rest . ... A Tale of Jerusalem, is one of those felicitous “hits,” which are the forte of Edgar A. Poe. The “critical notices” ... evince the usual ability of the editor in this department; though, what is more to our taste, not quite so caustic, as hitherto. — [William Gwynn, editor,] Baltimore Gazette.

The “Hall of Incholese” is decidedly bad, and moreover a direct imitation of Mr. Poe's tale of “Bon-Bon.” The Editor should have refused to admit it in the Messenger, if for no other reason, on account of its barefaced flattery of himself .... we approve of the Editor's discrimination in not troubling himself, except in rare cases, with those [publications] of foreign countries. Both these pieces [the Drake and Halleck review and “Maelzel's Chess Player”] are unanswerable — and perhaps the two best articles of any kind which have ever appeared in an American Periodical .... we have heard the Editor challenges a reply from Maelzel himself, or from any source whatever. — Norfolk Herald.

... the Editor ... opens with some spirited and just remarks on the puffing system, as practised in this country towards native writers, and a vindication of his own course. — [William Bose, editor,] Baltimore American.

... the poetry, judged by the Editor's own standard, that of Ideality, does not rank above the mediocrity. The critical notices ... are in the Editors best vein .... in general his dissections of “poor devil authors,” though apparently severe, are well merited. — [John N. McJilton and T. S. Arthur, editors,] Baltimore Athenæum.

Some of the northern critics have intimated that Simms was the editor of the Messenger. This is an error. It is now edited, as we understand, by Edgar A. Poe, formerly of this city, a young gentleman of excellent talents, and untiring industry. — [John N. McJilton and T. S. Arthur, editors,] Baltimore Athenæum. [page 216:]

The Southern Literary Messenger is now under the editorial conduct of Edgar A. Poe, Esq. formerly of this city, and has been so, as we understand, since the commencement of the second volume. This gentleman has been, the while, a liberal contributor to its columns, and this thorough identification with a periodical, marked with unusual ability and attended with extraordinary success, must be satisfactory to the editor, and afford ample testimony at the same time that the conduct of the Messenger is in fit and competent hands. — Baltimore Patriot.

The [April] number now before us contains a long and ingenious editorial article, on the modus operandi of Maelzel's Chess Player. — Baltimore Patriot.

“Some Ancient Greek Authors Chronologically Considered [Arranged],” is an article evincing profitably directed research, which we shall copy .... The Editorials of the number are ably written, though some pages are devoted to a solution of the mystery of the Automaton Chess-Player, doubtless the correct one, viz. that, after all the scrutiny which it has undergone, there is actually a man concealed in the pretended machinery. We are not sure that the demonstration, conceding it be such, is worth the space it necessarily occupies.

In the matter of Criticism, the Messenger has involved itself in a difficulty with some of our Northern periodicals, either party, as is not unusual in such cases, being just about half right. The Southern Editor has quite too savage a way of pouncing upon unlucky wights who happen to have severally perpetrated any thing below par in the literary line, like the Indian, who cannot realize that an enemy is conquered till he is scalped, and some of the mangled have no more policy than to betray their soreness by attempts at retaliation, under very flimsy disguises, invariably making the matter worse. We think the Messenger often quite too severe, as in the case of ‘Norman Leslie,’ but still able and ingenuous. The Poems of Drake and Halleck are reviewed this month — neither of them after the fashion of an ardent and awed admirer — but faithfully, fairly, and with discrimination. — New Yorker [7 May].

... the “Critical Notices” of the Editor have afforded us by no means the least pleasure. They are acute, just, and pungent .... it [the Messenger] does not hold itself bound, like many of our journalists, to applaud everything that is American ....Charlottesville Advocate.

The Editorial Criticisms are spirited but just .... Col. Stone's unfortunate “Ups and Downs in the Life of a Distressed Gentleman;’ is most unsparingly shown up. — New Yorker.

.... a spirit characterizes its editorial department exceedingly gratifying. — Boston Galaxy.

The article upon Maelzel's Automaton Chess Player is the most successful attempt we have seen to explain the modus operandi of that wonderful production. — [Philadelphia] United States Gazette.

The “Editorial Notices” are, to us, the most interesting part of the periodical — Methodist Conference Sentinel.

Let the New York Mirror snarl if it will; there are papers in each Messenger which [page 217:] will outlive all the Norman Leslies, [Willis’] “Pencillings by the Way;” and [Morris’] “Wearies my Love of my Letters?” of its erudite editors. Kennel a staghound with a cur, and the latter will yelp in very fear. — [Hiram Haines, editor,] Petersburg Constellation.

.... the critical notices are, as usual, able, candid and fearless. — Winchester Virginian.

... the critiques [are] precisely what they should be ....New Hampshire Patriot.

Its criticisms are prepared with peculiar justness and acumen .... Edgar A. Poe sprinkles his gems among the leaves of the Messenger. — Louisville City Gazette.

We felt then, as we do now, that the editor's criticisms were unnecessarily, perhaps, strictly severe in some instances. The eagle who towers above all other birds, and even dares to look upon the sun, would not, unless hard pressed, condescend to notice the earthly flutterings of a tomtit — he aspires to higher game. — Oxford [N. C.] Examiner.

It [“Maelzel's Chess Player”] is exceedingly well written and interesting. — Winchester Virginian.

The “Critical Notices,” though in themselves good, are not generally equal to the Editor's previous efforts. As it was however permitted Homer sometimes to nod, so should the really gifted mind which presides over the Messenger, be allowed occasionally a little repose. — Richmond Whig.

There is one article to which we object, the burlesque, or caricature, not criticism, on Fay's “Norman Leslie” . ... — [B. Badger, editor,] New York Weekly Messenger.

The critical notices [in the May issue] are very good for the most part but then we could hardly expect Mr. Poe to be sour ere the honey moon be past. — Norfolk Herald.

The Messenger reprints the following newspaper notices on the covers:

The Critical Notices have the merit of brevity, (in our estimation always a high one,) and though they exhibit a piquancy not at all times agreeable to the authors reviewed, and somewhat characteristic of the editor, yet we are not prepared to say that they are void of a just discrimination. We have, however, a fraternal regard for Colonel Stone of the New York Commercial Advertiser, and therefore are not altogether satisfied with the manner in which his Ups and Downs has been noticed. But not having read the book, we cannot at present undertake an appeal from the critic's judgment. — Richmond Compiler.

The April number of the Southern Literary Messenger gives a very ingenious solution of Maelzel's Automaton Chess Player. The writer denies that it is a pure machine, and proves by positions which seem to be incontrovertible, that the automaton is regulated by mind, and worked by a man concealed in the interior. The arguments in favor of this opinion, carry with them the force of mathematical truth. — Richmond Compiler. [page 218:]

The June number of the Messenger sustains the excellent character of the work. Its critical notices are as ably written, and as fearless as usual, and the contributions are of a superior class. — Pennsylvanian.

The poetry of this number is far above mediocrity, and the editorial department evinces the usual talent of the keenly critical but judicious editor. — [William Gwynn, editor,] Baltimore Gazette.

The editorial department, which is at present under the supervision of Mr. Edgar A. Poe, heretofore, and now, an able and sprightly contributor to the Messenger, displays, in the main, enlarged and cultivated powers of judgment, much critical acumen, and certainly no ordinary share of boldness in wielding the rod of censure over the devoted author.

While concurring in many of the critical dicta of the editor, we differ very widely from those expressed in the present number, in his review of Drake's and Halleck's poems. He has fallen far short, as we conceive, of doing full justice to these writers. We should have assigned them both a much higher place than is allowed them, in the poetical temple of our country. The “Culprit Fay,” a poem by Drake, is, in the opinion of Mr. Poe, quite an inferior and common-place production, altogether destitute of the higher attributes of true poetry. We have been accustomed to regard it as one of the most original poems in our language — a pure and sparkling gem of fancy, exquisitely wrought; but the total absence of human interest, and the deficiency of profound and touching sentiments, will prevent it from being a general favorite.

“The American Flag,” another production of the same author, the reviewer thinks, owes its reputation chiefly to our patriotic sympathies and associations. The man who can read it, dispensing even with these aids of national glory and recollection, and not feel his heart thrill with deep and stirring emotions of delight and admiration — to him we would say, we envy you not your theories of ideality.*

Halleck meets with no better favor at the hands of our critic. His poetry, with some slight exceptions, comes under the ban of a pretty sweeping denunciation. Here the reviewer, as we think, stands nearly alone in his judgment. The complaint against Halleck is, that he has written too little. All of that little is thought to be excellent in its way. It may be remarked of his poetry, as was said of the ashes of Alexander “it has shrunk to a narrow space, but is worthy of being deposited in a golden urn.” Who can forget “Fanny,” “The world is bright before thee,” “Verses in the Album of an unknown Lady,” “The Lines on Drake,” “The tribute to Burns,” suggested by the rose of Alloway, &c. &c. Halleck's minor pieces are, to our taste, extremely delightful; And his Lyric Muse has occasionally soared, as in “Marco Bozzaris,” to “the highest heaven of invention,” and displayed her bright and glancing plumes in the sun-light of freedom.

We shall expect to see a host of New York critics tilting at Mr. Poe for his bold disparagement of these twin favorites. His helmet must be made of good metal if he can stand the assault. — Huntsville Southern Advocate.

To the Advocate notice Poe appends two notes:

*  A constituent of the poetical character in which Mr. Poe thinks both Drake and Halleck eminently deficient. [page 219:]

  The Advocate has misapprehended us — we refer our readers to the review in question — (Ed. Mess.

One of the distinguishing characteristics is the bold, independent tone of its criticism: a rare virtue in these modern times; and it has ability equal to its fearlessness ....Philadelphia Saturday News.

[1836] 15 JULY. NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA. The Newbern Spectator calls for Poe's resignation: “ ‘The way’ the [Georgetown?] Metropolitan serves up the late number of the Southern Literary Messenger ‘is a caution. We think that Mr. Poe will soon see the necessity of resigning his chair, or of conforming to the rules of modern criticism. The Proprietor should look to this.”

[1836] 16 JULY. RICHMOND. Poe writes Littleton Waller Tazewell, Governor of Virginia, soliciting a contribution for the Messenger: “your Reasons for declining to transmit the instructions of the State Legislature to Mess. Tyler & Leigh” (L, 1:97-98).

[1836] 27 JULY? NEW YORK. B. Badger, editor of the New York Weekly Messenger, notices favorably the Southern Literary Messenger (letter of White to Badger, 30 July, VtMiM).

[1836] 29 JULY. NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA. The Newbern Spectator reprints a part of the July Messenger Supplement and replies:

Of the Supplement, however, we must say a word or two, if but to acknowledge, as early as possible, the debt of gratitude which we owe its profound editor, the author of the “Unpublished Drama,” having taken “notice” of us in a manner so gentlemanlike and dignified, and so creditable to his own temper and erudition .... If this [Supplement] is not a precious treat for the readers of a dignified Monthly, we know not what is! Revelling in puffs, even ad nauseam, which the Messenger has the unexampled meanness to extract from every source, and to republish, yet it cannot permit a single voice to be raised against its errors without descending to scurrility and invective; thus showing conclusively the unfitness of its conductor for the task he has undertaken .... A perusal of “Politian, or Scenes from an Unpublished Drama” ... would have cured us of verse writing, or of acknowledging the authorship of any thing in that way, had we been so inclined, but yet we will consent to father, however unworthy, the “unfortunate copy,” if the Messenger will publish it in juxtaposition with the scenes from an Unpublished Drama, as we copied and remarked on them a few months ago .... we intend to take an early opportunity to give the Messenger some wholesome advice and some useful hints. We shall not do this either for the purpose of being noticed or of decrying the work, which is already estimated here at a value which we shall not name, notwithstanding the volume of nauseous puffs which accompanies almost every number. [page 220:]

[1836] BEFORE 30 JULY? PHILADELPHIA. Perhaps Mathew Carey, a contributor to the Messenger, writes Poe (Poe to Carey, 30 July 1836).

[1836] 30 JULY. RICHMOND. Poe writes Mathew Carey, suggesting a new title for one of Carey's contibutions and referring to other writings by him (L, 1:98-99).

[1836] EARLY AUGUST? NEW YORK. Either the Courier and Enquirer or the American replies to an attack on Poe in the Transcript of 7 July (White to Scott, 25 August 1836).

[1836] 2 AUGUST. RICHMOND. Poe writes an unknown correspondent (Ostrom [1981], p. 187).

[1836] 5 AUGUST. White writes William Scott, proprietor of the New York Weekly Messenger, replying to Scott's letter of 3 August: “I have had a great deal of sickness in my office among my best hands, and since the 4th July . ... Your opinion of the ‘Mirror’ is not an uncommon one” (VtMiM).

[1836] 5 AUGUST. NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA. The Newbern Spectator finds Poe incapable of judging the writings of others, especially Robert Southey's The Doctor.

[1836] 9 AUGUST. RICHMOND. In the Richmond Compiler John H. Mackenzie advertises for a partner in his business of selling horses, mules, wagons, drays, etc.

[1836] 16 AUGUST. White writes William Scott: “If it be not too late, I should like to have you refer, in your preliminary remarks, to the mass of reading there is in the Messenger — and to speak also of the untiring industry and the immense expense it must cost the Publisher to collect together such a quantity of good matter monthly” (VtMiM).

[1836] 19 AUGUST. The Compiler reports that the August Messenger “will be issued on Monday morning, 22d inst.” and publishes its table of contents.

[1836] 19 AUGUST. Poe writes Hiram Haines, publisher of the Petersburg, Virginia, tri-weekly American Constellation, and sends him an advance copy of the August Messenger: “Can you oblige me so far as to look it over and give your unbiassed opinion of its merits and demerits in the ‘Constellation’? ... All after the word Editorial is my own. If you copy any thing please take my Review of Willis’ ‘Inklings of Adventure’ — or some other Review” (L, 1:99-100). [page 221:]

[1836] 22 AUGUST. The August Messenger publishes Poe's three fillers (“In ‘Dodsley's Collection’ is an old play ... ;’ “Wherever the Inquisition had power ... ,” and “Swift's Liliputian [Lilliputian] Ode’ is an imitation ... ”), “Israfel,” note to “Scenes in Campillo,” note to “The Battle of Lodi,” “The City of Sin,” note to “MSS. of John Randolph,” editorial section (including “Right of Instruction” and “Pinakidia”), “Autography,” and critical notices: “The Old World and the New” (Orville Dewey's The Old World and the New), “Richardson's Dictionary” (Charles Richardson's A New Dictionary of the English Language), “Book of Gems” (The Book of Gems, edited by S. C. Hall), “South-Sea Expedition” (Report of the Committee on Naval Affairs), “Elkswatawa” (James S. French's Elkswatawa), “The Virginia Springs” (Letters Descriptive of the Virginia Springs by Peregrine Prolix [William Burke?]), “A Year in Spain” (Alexander Slidell Mackenzie's A Year in Spain), “Adventures in Search of a Horse” (anon., The Adventures of a Gentleman in Search of a Horse), “Lafitte” (Joseph H. Ingraham's Lafitte: the Pirate of the Gulf), “Draper's Lecture” (John W. Draper's Introductory Lecture to a Course of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy), “Lieber's Memorial” (Memorial of Francis Lieber), “History of Texas” (David B. Edward's The History of Texas), and “Inklings of Adventure” (N. P Willis’ Inklings of Adventure).

[1836] 25 AUGUST. White writes William Scott: “Courtesy to Mr. Poe whom I employ to edit my paper makes it a matter of etiquette with me to submit all articles intended for the Messenger to his judgment and I abide by his dicta. I have heard there was reply to an attack made on Mr. Poe in the [New York] Transcript of July 7th either in the Enquirer or American. It must have appeared about three weeks ago. Will you do me the favor to call at the office of the American (Enquirer also) and look over their files. If such a piece appeared I should like to see it very much” (VtMiM).

[1836] 26 AUGUST. The Richmond Compiler comments on Poe's review of James French's Elkswatawa in the August Messenger:

In running over some of the critical notices of the last Literary Messenger, we were much edified with a review of a new work, by a Virginian, entitled “ELKSWATAWA,” in which the critic presents rather a ludicrous outline of the plot and characters. Mr. French himself cannot but be amused at the humorous style of the narrative portion of the criticism, and must admit that he has received several palpable hits. If, however, his sensibility has been wounded, he may find consolation in the reflection, that the best writers of every age have been excoriated by the critics, and have profited by the operation, and by the further reflection, that the critic has been compelled to admit that the “general style is intrinsically good.” The criticism may have the effect upon others that it has had upon us — it may induce them to read a portion of the book, if not its whole contents. We were delighted with a scene in which the arts of western electioneering are most humorously depicted. [page 222:]

[1836] 27 AUGUST. NEW YORK. The Spirit of the Times and the New-Yorker notice Poe's “Pinakidia” (Pollin [1985], p. 3).

[1836] 30 AUGUST. RICHMOND. The Compiler suggests that Poe's criticism could be toned down:

The August No. of the Southern Literary Messenger has been well received by most of the editorial corps who have noticed it. These commendations may be valued, because they emanate from sources beyond the influence of private friendship; and therefore it is, that suggestions of improvement should be, and we have no doubt will be, duly regarded by the editor and publisher. No periodical in the country has been so successful in obtaining the aid of able and distinguished writers; and the quantity of matter is much greater than need be. We entirely agree with the editor of one of the prints, who thinks a choice tale in each number would add to its attraction; as something is due to the tastes of those who have neither time nor relish for the higher grades of literature. Specimens of the writing we refer to, have often been given in the Messenger, but the supply may not be as abundant as needful. The hint, we are sure, is enough to prompt the effort to obtain regular contributions of this sort.

The criticisms are pithy and often highly judicious, but the editors must remember that it is almost as injurious to obtain a character for regular cutting and slashing as for indiscriminate laudation.

[1836] BEFORE 2 SEPTEMBER. Poe writes the editor of the Compiler:

In a late paragraph respecting the “Southern Literary Messenger;” you did injustice to that Magazine — and perhaps your words, if unanswered, may even do it an injury. As any such wrong is far from your thoughts, you will of course, allow the Editor of the Messenger the privilege of reply. The reputation of a young journal, occupying a conspicuous post in the eye of the public, should be watched, by those who preside over its interests, with a jealous attention, and those interests defended when necessary and when possible. But it is not often possible. Custom debars a Magazine from answering in its own pages (except in rare cases,) contemporary misrepresentations and attacks. Against these it has seldom, therefore, any means of defence — the best of reasons why it should avail itself of the few which, through courtesy, may fall to its lot. I mean this as an apology for troubling you to-day. (a)

Your notice of the Messenger would generally be regarded as complimentary — especially so to myself. I would, however, prefer justice to a compliment, and the good name of the Magazine to any personal consideration. The concluding sentence of your paragraph runs thus: “The criticisms are pithy, and often highly judicious, but the editors must remember that it is almost as injurious to obtain a character for regular cutting and slashing, as for indiscriminate laudation.” The italics are my own. I had supposed you aware of the fact that the Messenger has but one editor — it is not right that others should be saddled with demerits belonging only to myself. (b) But this is not the point to which I especially object. You assume that the Messenger has obtained a character for regular “cutting and [page 223:] slashing;” or if you do not mean to assume this, every one will suppose that you do — which, in effect, is the same. Were the assumption just, I would be silent, and set immediately about amending my editorial course. You are not sufficiently decided, I think, in saying that a career of “regular cutting and slashing is almost as bad as one of indiscriminate laudation.” It is infinitely worse — it is horrible. The laudation may proceed from — philanthropy, if you please; but the “indiscriminate cutting and slashing” only from the vilest passions of our nature. But I wish briefly to examine two points — first, is the charge of indiscriminate “cutting and slashing” just, granting it adduced against the Messenger? — and, second, is such charge adduced at all? Since the commencement of my editorship in December last, 94 books have been reviewed. In 79 of these cases, the commendation has so largely predominated over the few sentences of censure, that every reader would pronounce the notices highly laudatory. In 7 instances, viz: in those of The Hawks of Hawk Hollow, The Old World and the New, Spain Revisited, the Poems of Mrs. Sigourney, of Miss Gould, of Mrs. Ellett [Ellet], and of Halleck, praise slightly prevails. In 5, viz: in those of Clinton Bradshaw, The Partisan, Elkswatawa, Lafitte, and the Poems of Drake, censure is greatly predominant; while the only reviews decidedly and harshly condemnatory are those of Norman Leslie, Paul Ulric, and the Ups and Downs. — The “Ups and Downs” alone is unexceptionably condemned. Of these facts you may satisfy yourself at any moment by reference. In such case the difficulty you will find, in classing these notices, as I have here done, according to the predominance of censure or commendation, will afford you sufficient evidence that they cannot justly be called “indiscriminate.”

But this charge of indiscriminate “cutting and slashing” has never been adduced — except in 4 instances, while the rigid justice and impartiality of our Journal has been lauded even ad nauseam in more than four times four hundred. You should not therefore have assumed that the Messenger had obtained a reputation for this “cutting and slashing” — for the asserting a thing to be famous, is a well known method of rendering it so. The 4 instances to which I allude, are the Newbern Spectator, to which thing I replied in July — the Commercial Advertiser of Colonel Stone, whose Ups and Downs I had occasion (pardon me) to “use up” — the N. Y. Mirror, whose Editor's Norman Leslie did not please me — and the Philadelphia Gazette, which, being conducted by one of the sub-editors of the Knickerbocker, thinks it its duty to abuse all rival Magazines.

I have only to add that the inaccuracy of your expression in the words — “The August No. of the Southern Literary Messenger has been well received by most of the Editorial corps who have noticed it,” is of a mischievous tendency in regard to the Messenger. You have seen, I presume, no notices which have not been seen by myself — and you must be aware that there is not one, so far, which has not spoken, in the highest terms, of the August number. I cannot, however, bring myself to doubt that your remarks, upon the whole, were meant to do the Messenger a service, and that you regard it with the most friendly feelings in the world. (c)

[The Compiler printed Poe's letter: see 2 SEPTEMBER.]

[1836] 2 SEPTEMBER. NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA. The Newbern Spectator finds fault with Poe's “Israfel” in the August Messenger: [page 224:]

We cannot close this imperfect notice without congratulating the readers of the Messenger on the absence of the Puff Department ... As the Editor has failed to publish the “unfortunate copy of verses,” which he honourably, and with a proper regard for truth, attributed to us, we will convince him that we do not resent his failure and our disappointment.

[“Israfel” is reprinted.]

The editor of the Spectator then observes: “Heart-strings of a spirit! Admirable conception [on line 2] . ... Beautiful! The light[n]ing of heaven pauses to listen! [on line 10] ... This verse is so incomprehensibly beautiful, so purely English, and so perfectly connected with the context, that we know not how to express our admiration [on stanza 4] .... With all modesty we suggest that it would improve the sense of this line read thus: One half so childishly” [on line 41].

[1836] 2 SEPTEMBER. RICHMOND. The Richmond Compiler replies to Poe's letter “To the Editor of the Compiler”:

(a.) The idea that “injury” may accrue to the Messenger, from what we have said, may have arisen from the “jealous attention” above alluded to, but we doubt whether the public will concur in the opinion. At all events, we cannot appreciate that sort of jealousy which deems it proper to defend “reputation” for such slight causes.

(b.) We should have thought a critical eye would have observed that this was a mere typographical error. We did not mean to assume that the editor had already obtained “a character for regular cutting and slashing.” We only warned him against that unenviable sort of reputation. He has chosen to transpose our words, and use the word “indiscriminate” instead of “regular,” which makes us say what we did not say. There is surely a vast difference in the import of the terms. “Regular” dissection might be just and proper, from the nature of the subjects reviewed, but “indiscriminate” would imply the indulgence of a savage propensity in all cases whatsoever. The enumeration, therefore, of the cases in which praise predominated, was scarcely necessary to a defence, because this defence is “adduced” against a charge which was never made by us. The admission that the reviews of three works were “harshly condemnatory,” is enough of itself to justify the warning which we had the temerity to utter, and the further avowal that Col. Stone's “Ups and Downs;” was “unexceptionably condemned;” would sustain the idea that the laudation ad nauseam of the “rigid justice and impartiality” of the editor was not entirely merited. No perfectly dispassionate mind can assent to the proposition that the works thus “harshly” and “unexceptionably” condemned, deserved a total and unqualified reprobation. The thing is not reasonable.

(c.) We are not ready to admit the “inaccuracy” of this expression. A single exception is enough to justify the use of the word “most,” and that exception, if we remember aright, the Baltimore Chronicle [Neilson Poe?] furnished. We cannot therefore allow the “accuracy” of the intimation that our expression is of a “mischievous tendency in regard to the Messenger.” [page 225:]

We make no professions here as to the nature of our “feelings” for that journal. If these have not been rightly understood, it is not probable we can now make them palpable. One thing, however, we will venture to remark in “rigid justice,” and that is, that one so sensitive as the editor of the Messenger and so tolerant of a difference of opinion, may probably be led to reflect whether any provocation should induce the conductor of a grave literary work to censure harshly and “unexceptionably.” Those who wield a ready and satirical pen, very rarely consider, that the subjects of their witticisms have nerves as sensitive as their own; and the instance before us shows the necessity of learning patiently to bear as well as “rigidly” to inflict the lash of criticism. It is not probable we shall ever again disturb the current of laudation, even by a hint, having had another confirmation of the truth, that giving advice, even with the best of motives, is rather an unthankful business.

[1836] 2 SEPTEMBER. Poe writes Harrison Hall, a Philadelphia publisher:

Mr White duly received your letter of the 12th August, and I take the liberty of replying for him. The Latin Grammar and Mr [Basil] Hall's Sketches have come to hand .... I have also read the objectionable article in the N. A. Review and agree with you that some personal pique is at the bottom of it. I cannot republish the reply in the Am. D. Advertiser, but, with your leave, I will make it the basis of another notice for the Sep: Messenger . ... At different times there has appeared in the Messenger a series of Tales, by myself — in all seventeen. They are of a bizarre and generally whimsical character, and were originally written to illustrate a large work “On the Imaginative Faculties.” I have prepared them for republication, in book form, in the following manner. I imagine a company of 17 persons who call themselves the Folio Club. They meet once a month at the house of one of the members, and, at a late dinner, each member reads aloud a short prose tale of his own composition. The votes are taken in regard to the merits of each tale. The author of the worst tale, for the month, forfeits the dinner & wine at the next meeting. The author of the best, is President at the next meeting. The seventeen tales which appeared in the Messr are supposed to be narrated by the seventeen members at one of these monthly meetings. As soon as each tale is read — the other 16 members criticise it in turn — and these criticisms are intended as a burlesque upon criticism generally. The author of the tale adjudged to be the worst demurs from the general judgment, seizes the seventeen M.SS upon the table, and, rushing from the house, determines to appeal, by printing the whole, from the decision of the Club, to that of the public. The critical remarks, which have never been published, will make about 1/4 of the whole ....

I refer you for the reputation of these tales to the covers of the 1rst & 2d vols. Lit Messr — A mass of eulogy, in the way of extracts from papers, might be appended if necessary, such as have never appeared to any volume in the country .... My object in stating the nature of these tales &c is to ascertain if you, or any bookseller of your acquaintance, would feel willing to undertake the publication (L, 1:103-05).

[1836] 8 SEPTEMBER. NEW YORK. In the Commercial Advertiser W. L. Stone replies to Poe's letter in the Richmond Compiler of 2 September: [page 226:]

The natural and necessary inference is, that the charge [of cutting and slashing] was brought in the Commercial Advertiser because the editor of the Messenger had had occasion to “use up” a volume entitled “Ups and Downs”; this inference involving a charge of personal and interested feelings against one of the editors of the Commercial. The gentleman of the Messenger would have shown more candor if he had stated, as was the fact, that the “charge” was adduced in the Commercial Advertiser, long before “Ups and Downs” was either published or printed. So that if personal feelings had any influence in the matter, it must have been the editor of the Messenger who was governed by them, in his review of “Ups and Downs.”

[1836] 8 SEPTEMBER. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. The Charleston Courier acknowledges the receipt of the August Messenger “with a galaxy of bright things and bright names. Articles from ... EDGAR A. POE, its gifted and versatile editor .... The critical notices ... evince generally great critical discrimination, although we think that in seeking to avoid the common fault of heaping indiscriminate and injudicious praise on books of American parentage, there is sometimes a degree of harshness, bordering on disparagement.”

[1836] 9 SEPTEMBER. CANONSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA. The Franklin Literary Society of Jefferson College elects Poe an honorary member:

No. 1556   Sept. 9th, 1836.

A. E. [sic] Poe [was elected] Honorary Member.

Nourse Semple & Thompson Jr., comm [committee].

(Wells, p. 3; Ostrom [1981], pp. 187-88).

[1836] 12 SEPTEMBER. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. The Georgetown Metropolitan finds that Poe's “critical notices in the Messenger are among the best pages of the book [magazine]. There is a manliness, candour, and critical ability and consciousness about them, to our mind of such high value in this department of a work, that we would forgive fifty other sins for such excellencies here alone:”

[1836] 16 SEPTEMBER. NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA. The Newbern Spectator reprints a Camden (S. C.) Journal notice of the Messenger: “Throughout the labors of the Editor, there is, it appears to us, a vein of pedantry and sarcasm which we confess we have not taste enough to admire.”

[1836] 21 SEPTEMBER. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. The Georgetown Metropolitan begins to reprint Poe's “Autography”; additional installments appear in the 7, 10, and 12 October issues.

[1836] AFTER 24 SEPTEMBER. RICHMOND. The September Messenger includes Poe's note to “Cromwell,” note to “Memoirs of Mrs. Hemans” (a selection from [page 227:] advance sheets of Memorials of Mrs. Hemans), “Editorial,” and critical notices: “Philothea” (Lydia Maria Child's Philothea: A Romance), “Sheppard Lee” (Robert Montgomery Bird's Sheppard Lee: Written by Himself), and “Hazlitt's Remains” (Literary Remains of the Late William Hazlitt, by his son, E. L. Bulwer, and Sergeant Talfourd). The following notice appears: “The illness of both Publisher and Editor will, we hope, prove a sufficient apology for the omission of many promised notices of new books.”

[Both the Georgetown Metropolitan (7 October) and the Newbern Spectator (4 November) noticed the apology. White also planned a visit to New York in early October (White to William Scott, 23 September, VtMiM). Pollin (1985), pp. 439-41, questions Poe's authorship of “The Rainbow,” a filler in this issue.)

[1836] 26 SEPTEMBER. Poe writes the Reverend Samuel Gilman, a Unitarian minister of Charleston, South Carolina (Ostrom [1981], p. 188).

[1836] 3 OCTOBER OR BEFORE. NEW YORK. Saunders and Otley, British publishers with a branch in New York City, write Poe (Johnston to White, 4 October 1836).

[1836] 4 OCTOBER. Edward W. Johnston, a journalist and librarian, writes White, urging Poe to complete the writing of his tales:

By yesterday's post I sent you the proofs of my article on Classical Bibliography. You will find them corrected with great exactness.

I am likely to have upon my hands for a few days a little leisure, and shall probably employ a part of it in writing you another article or two. They shall be sent you — that is if I like them well enough when finished about the end of this week.

Have the goodness to tell Mr Poe that I had yesterday a second conversation with Saunders and Otley upon the affair of his MS, that they seem much disposed to become the publishers, here and in England, but cannot apparently take it upon themselves to decide for their paternal house abroad. They were anxious, therefore, to have the finished MS, in order to send it out by the next packet. To this general effect they had written him (Mr. P.). I told them that I felt sure that the writing of the tales in their final form had yet made too little progress to render so speedy a transcription of the Copy possible and that, as the months of Nov. and Decr. are those most advantageous in European publication, they had better send back the MS. in their hands, which may be of much importance to the rapid finishing of the work. This they at once promised to do, and Mr P. will receive it either through your bookseller Smith, or by the regular mode of conveyance. Tell him, further that I would advise him to send back the finished MS with all possible expedition in time enough for one of the earliest packets. Give him, at the same time, my sincere compliments and good wishes.

I am little likely to fix myself here, I think. I find the literary Journals — with [page 228:] which alone I have desired to connect myself — in such a wretched condition, both as to their management and resources. Political employment — the only alternative — I cannot willingly accept, unless it were in a region where other interests and more respectable principles prevail. It is probable that I shall finally accept a very fair offer made to me at Washington, in behalf of a Literary enterprize which is to be organized, in the South, this winter.

Give my very friendly respects to Mrs. White, and believe me very truly / Yours / Ed. W. Johnston. / PS. Direct any thing which you may have occasion to send me, to Mr. Ed. W. Johnston, No 30, Chapel Street, N. York. I shall probably go South in a week or 10 days. / E. W. J. (TxU-HRCL).

[1836] 7 OCTOBER. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. The Georgetown Metropolitan reports that “The Southern Literary Messenger for September has just come out having been delayed by the sickness of both editor and publisher.”

[1836] BEFORE 17 OCTOBER. RICHMOND. Poe writes Thomas R. Dew, of the College of William and Mary (Dew to Poe, 17 October 1836).

[1836] 17 OCTOBER. WILLIAMSBURG. Thomas R. Dew writes Poe:

If you will read over my address you will be enabled to draw up a few editorial remarks of the character you desire. Our College is the oldest in the Union save one and older than that, if we might date back to the establishment of an Academy in this city of some note prior to the erection of the College. The numbers at Wm & Mary have rarely been great, & yet she has turned out more useful men, more great statesmen than any other college in the world in proportion to her alumni. The high political character of old Va. is due to this college. Some colleges may have equalled ours in Physics and Mathematics, but few have in Morals and Politics, & it is these last subjects that give the highest finish to the mind, and raise it to its greatest elevation. The scenery here, the hospitable population, the political atmosphere all conspire to give a utilitarian character to the mind of the student. Hence the alumni of this college have always been characterized by business minds & great efficiency of character. In conclusion I will say, that we never had more brilliant prospects than now, & I have no doubt that our numbers this year will be as great as have ever been known in this college. An editorial of the kind you mention would be highly gratifying to the friends of the college, & would be of great service .... Be sure you let me have the proof sheets as early as possible by steam boat or mail (W, 17:39-40).

[1836] BEFORE 20 OCTOBER. BOSTON. Sarah Josepha Hale addresses a letter to “W. G. Simms Esqr, Editor of the S. L. Messenger” (Poe to Hale, 20 October 1836).

[1836] 20 OCTOBER. RICHMOND. Poe writes Sarah Josepha Hale:

I was somewhat astonished to day at receiving a letter addressed to “W. G. Simms Esqr, Editor of the S. L. Messenger” .... it is difficult to reply to one portion of [page 229:] your letter — that touching the prose article desired. If however, it was your wish that I should furnish it, I am grieved to say that it will be impossible for me to make a definite promise just now, as I am unfortunately overwhelmed with business, having been sadly thrown back by late illness .... I shall look anxiously for the “Ladies’ Wreath.” I am surprised and grieved to learn that your son (with whom I had a slight acquaintance at W. Point) should have been vexed about the autographs. So mere nonsense it was hardly worth while to find fault with. Most assuredly as regards yourself, Madam, I had no intention of giving offence — in respect to the “Mirror” I am somewhat less scrupulous (L, 1:105-106).

[1836] 31 OCTOBER. WILLIAMSBURG. Thomas R. Dew writes Poe that he is returning the proof sheets of his address:

I wish you to have 50 additional copies struck off for me, which I wish to distribute. As soon as you have finished the publication send down the pamphlets to the students, & may I suggest the propriety of sending a copy of your next Messenger to each one of the committee, with the publisher's compliments. Little attentions of this kind are always flattering, & I should like to see the Messenger circulated among our young men. We have now more than 90 students, a number that perhaps has never been equalled so early in the course and the best possible spirit persists among them (MB-G. Dew's “Address Delivered at ... William and Mary” was printed in the Messenger, 2 [November 18361: 760-69].

[1836] OCTOBER? NEW YORK. White meets Charles Anthon, a Columbia College professor, and James Kirke Paulding (White to Tucker, 19 January 1837).

[1836] 4 NOVEMBER. NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA. The editor of the Newbern Spectator borrows a copy of the September Messenger to write a review:

After waiting through the months of September and October without having received a number of the Messenger, we began to think that the Editor had “cut” us in consequence of our attempts to restrain his imprudence in the literary line. We went, therefore, to one of the subscribers in the town, and obtained the September number, that we might judge of the effects of the truths which we had told the Editor. We are happy to add, that they are visible in the increased moderation of the “Critical Notices,” although there is yet just cause for a little “fault-finding,” which we forbear this week on account of the plea of indisposition which the Editor puts in. — Even the “cut direct” will not prevent us hereafter from informing our readers of the merits of the Messenger.

[The Spectator received a copy of the October Messenger on 25 November.]

[1836] AFTER 8 NOVEMBER. RICHMOND. The October Messenger publishes Poe's footnote to Lindley Murray's poem “To My Wife,” “Noms de Guerre,” “Bibles,” and critical notices: “The Swiss Heiress” (Susan Rigby Morgan's The Swiss Heiress; or The Bride of Destiny), “Roszel's Address” (Address [page 230:] delivered ... by S. A. Roszel), “Wraxall's Memoirs” (Sir N. W. Wraxall's Posthumous Memoirs of his Own Time), “American Almanac” (The American Almanac ... for the Year 1837), “Cooper's Switzerland” (James Fenimore Cooper's Sketches of Switzerland), “Professor Dew's Address” (An Address ... by Thomas R. Dew), “Memorials of Mrs. Hemans” (Henry F. Chorley's Memorials of Mrs. Hemans), “Dr. Haxall's Dissertation” (Dr. Robert W. Haxall's A Dissertation ...), “Schloss Hainfeld” (Basil Hall's Skimmings), “Peter Snook” (J. Dalton's Peter Snook), “Life of Richelieu” (G. P. R. James's Lives of the Cardinal de Richelieu, Count Oxenstiern, Count Olivarez, and Cardinal Mazarin), “Hall's Latin Grammar” (Baynard R. Hall's A New and Compendious Latin Grammar ...), “Bland's Chancery Reports” (Theodorick Bland's Reports of Cases ...), “Lucien Bonaparte” (Memoirs of Lucien Bonaparte ... by himself), and “Madrid in 1835” (anon., Madrid in 1835).

In an “Advertisement” Poe apologizes for delays and announces future plans for the Messenger:

Various delays arising from sickness in our office, the difficulty of obtaining workmen at short notice in the South, and other causes unforeseen, have thrown us, during the progress of the last two numbers, more than a month behind our regular time of issue. We regret this, however, the less, since it will be desirable, at all events, not to commence our third volume until the beginning of the new year. The Messenger now published is No. XI [October 1836]. No. XII [November 1836] will follow as soon as possible, and complete Volume the Second. The first number of Volume III, in whose external appearance we hope to make some improvements, will be issued on the first of January next.

On the covers White exonerates Poe from a charge of vanity and publishes newspaper notices of the Messenger:


As Publisher and Proprietor of this journal, I shall always consider it not only my right, but my duty, to advance its interests by any honorable means within my power. To show those who have favored me with their support, or who may deliberate about so doing, what the public think of the Messenger (as far as the voice of the public can be ascertained by means of the public press), I cannot be brought to think a censurable course, and shall accordingly pursue it at such intervals as may be thought proper. In the present instance, the high encomiums which have been lavished, from the loftiest source in the country, and lavished without exception, upon the exertions and talents of Mr. Poe, (and only a very few of which are here republished) render it incumbent upon me to exonerate him from the charge of vanity in giving farther circulation to the “Opinions of the Press.” I, therefore, take this method of stating as distinctly as possible, that he has no part whatever in this proceeding — which is altogether a matter between reader and Publisher. The notices subjoined are taken, very nearly at random, from a mass lately received, amounting to more than one hundred, and which are, without exception, complimentary.

THOMAS W. WHITE. [page 231:]

... We desire once more to call public attention to this magazine, whose rare merits have by no means been overrated in the thousand and one laudatory notices with which the whole press of the country is teeming. The Messenger has had the good fortune to attain an unparalleled popularity, by striking out for itself a novel path, and by pursuing it with energy, steadfast perseverance, the greatest ability, and perfect fearlessness and independence. We allude, of course, to its editorial conduct, and especially to its department of Critical Notices. Throwing off, indignantly, the trammels of English opinions, the whole country, it seemed, was upon the point of rushing headlong into the opposite extreme, and giving exorbitant and indiscriminate praise to every American book. To such an extent was this pernicious feeling carried, that no sooner was a novel, poem, or any work of any species, published as the production of an American author, than the periodical press, unanimously, throughout the land, were occupied in singing its praises; and in this manner many a spurious and utterly untenable reputation has been attained. In December last, the “Messenger” boldly took up the cudgels against so pernicious an evil, and succeeded in shaking the throne of popular faith to its centre, by a series of attacks, bold, well-directed and irresistible, against a number of the most popular authors of the day. The system, too, has been followed up ever since, with an industry so untiring, an impartiality so unimpeachable, an ability so undeniable, as to have extorted admiration from all sources.

Nor in its powers of sarcasm alone has the Messenger obtained a decided advantage over all competitors. Its columns are equally renowned for sound scholarship, a just appreciation of real beauty, and a searching analysis of the principles of literary merit. These qualities have succeeded in drawing to its list of contributors a great number of the proudest literary names in our country — men, who, never having before contributed to any similar publication, thus evince their high appreciation of the Messenger. In the number before us (that for August) we see the names of Robert Greenhow, of this city; Judge Hopkinson, of Philadelphia; Professor Francis Lieber, editor of the Encyclopaedia Americana; James K. Paulding; Major Henry Lee, author of the Life of Napoleon; Dr. Robert M. Bird, author of “Calavar;” Lieutenant Slidell, author of “A Year in Spain;” Simms, author of the “Partisan;” the venerable Mathew Carey, of Philadelphia; James M. Garnett, of Virginia; Mrs. Ellet, Mrs. Sarah J. Hale, Mrs. Sigourney, and others. It has, besides, one or two contributions from Mr. Poe, by whom, we presume, all after the word “Editorial” is furnished. This department embraces, in the present instance, no less than thirty-two closely printed pages, in double columns, principally reviews of new works, among which are “The Old World and the New,” “Richardson's Dictionary,” The Book of Gems,” Mr. French's novel “Elkswatawa,” “A Year in Spain,” Professor Ingraham's novel “Lafitte;” and Mr. Willis's “Inklings of Adventure.” The reviews should be read to be appreciated. The number closes with an amusing article (also editorial) called “Autography,” and embracing facsimile signatures of Sparks, Willis, Miss Gould, Professor Dew, Mellen, Simms, Slidell, Professor Anthon, Professor Lieber, Mrs. Hale, Jack Downing, Stone, and Fay. — [Washington] National Intelligencer.

We have not received the August number of the Southern Messenger; at least it has not as yet reached our peculiar desk. We always welcome the White Messenger, for it is always freighted with sweet poetry and lofty and intellectual prose. [page 232:]

Mayhap our senior has cabbaged it, and sits up after his dinner of politics, to take tea upon cakes of literature. The other papers say that Edgar Poe has committed murder upon a poor Virginia author [James S. French]. We feel anxious to see how he managed it. — [Washington] United States Telegraph.

The editor himself, Mr. Poe, has given his elegant, his powerful, and acute mind, to its [the Messenger's] advancement. Powerful in his own productions, he is just to those of others. His critical notices are always good or sometimes bordering on the brink of too much severity. There is no use in lashing authors, unfortunate race, as if they were highway robbers, horse thieves, and gallows birds. Mercy should smile upon the inkstand of the critic (forgive the sublime idea, Mr. Poe,) — should chasten the rod he had soaked in pickle, made doubly severe by his own consciousness of superiority — but we are running wild .... The critical notices are excellent, as usual. Mr. Poe has great summary powers. Witness his condensation, his summing up in so short a space, of the incidents in the life and death of Sheppard Lee. — Washington Telegraph.

The contributions to the [August] “Messenger” are all excellent, many of them first rate, as to matter as well as manner, without, so far as we remember, an atom of namby-pamby trash; but the titbits under the editorial department pleased us exceedingly. There is a raciness and scholarlike taste, a classical acumen, which made us feel as we have not felt for years, and brought back to us reminiscences that flitted like fire-flies athwart the gloom of our memory. — [William Bose, editor,] Baltimore American.

The August number of this journal is upon our table. It is published monthly at Richmond by T. W. White, Esq. and is edited, we believe, by Edgar A. Poe, Esq. a young man of brilliant talents and much promise .... Mr. Poe's poetical rhapsodies are quite equal to any thing in the works of Alfred Tennyson or John Keats. We are not admirers of this mystic school of poetry, but Mr. Poe has given evidence of considerable powers, which may be matured by study and practice. His versification is often incorrect, and we remember some blank verse of his, where all metrical rules were set at defiance, and some fine ideas were spoilt in the expression. The following stanza from a poem entitled “The City of Sin,” could have preceeded only from high poetical impulses, but the epithet “Babylon-like” is harsh and inexpressive . ...

The “Critical Notices” are in general independent, just and discriminating. But Mr. Poe must be careful how he puffs the books of his contributors. It looks suspicious. The Messenger has taken a high stand among the literary periodicals of the country; and as its circulation increases, it will go on improving ....Boston Atlas.

We however assure our readers that we do not puff .... How it is we cannot say, but the Messenger comes up to our beau ideal of a Southern Monthly, so well and so constantly, that we cannot (nor do we know why we should) refrain from, as well and as constantly, giving it what we consider to be its just due. Moreover, we are again compelled to allude to the excellence of its critical department, and excellent we at least must consider it; for so closely did its critique upon a certain “American Novel;” yclept “Paul Ulric,” resemble one we had been provoked into [page 233:] writing, and were waiting for Politics and Commerce to give us a chance to insert in our humble diurnal, that we suppressed it for fear of the charge of plagiarism; and we are sure that in relation to the strictures on “Lafitte,” (Ingraham's new novel) and Willis’ “Inklings of Adventure,” in the number before us, had we attempted a similar task, a similar result must have followed. Under these circumstances then, although it will not do for us to deny too strenuously that we, and consequently the Messenger, may err, yet for the same reason, our commendation of that work must be taken for anything but the insincerity of puffing. On this point we are positively “committed,” stand we by it or fall. — Natchez Courier.

If the Literary Messenger is always as well supported by its literary contributors, it need not fear the rivalry of any magazine, at home or abroad. We take an extract from a collection of thoughts, good sayings, and learned notes, entitled “Pinakidia.” — New York Evening Post.

Besides the numerous contributions which it [the Messenger] contains, we observe that the pen editorial has been employed for the present [September] number, with industry, vigor and effect, upwards of thirty pages being apparently devoted to that department of the work. Undoubtedly, this Messenger must be “going ahead” with a rapidity or impetus suited to the era of locomotives and steam. — Martinsburg Gazette, quoting the Baltimore Patriot.

.... we desire for the Editor continued health and strength, that he may not be obliged to remit his labors which in time must have a powerful influence. — Boston Galaxy.

One thing we do know assuredly, that this Magazine would do honor to any part of the world. If we had accidentally found any one number of it, without any knowledge of its source, we should unhesitatingly class it among the most chaste and brilliant productions of an age and place, more fruitful in literary and typographical excellence than our own. We are not surprised that this Magazine should have enemies — “Envy hatest that excellence it cannot reach”; and we are of the opinion that the time has now arrived when the covert insinuations of its foes, are as powerless as the eulogies of its friends are unnecessary. — [B. Badger, editor,] New York Messenger.

It [the Messenger] is conducted with courage, which, in such an undertaking, is more rare, if not more necessary than talent .... The Poetry by the editor is tolerable. The editorial and critical notices are written with animation and force, and exhibit a well regulated taste. The autography at the close of the volume, will be inspected with interest. The Messenger, take it all in all, is, perhaps, the most spirited, original and interesting periodical in the country, and though we cannot praise all its contents, we must own that it contains much which cannot be praised too highly. — Pennsylvania Sentinel.

We commend it as eminently worthy of patronage. — Boston Aurora.

It [the August Messenger] gives evidence of superior ability, and immense labor and research, particularly on the part of the editor, Mr. Edgar A. Poe. Paulding, Simms, Lieber, M. Carey, Mrs. Sigourney, Mrs. Hale, and other writers of acknowledged [page 234:] talents, contribute to its columns; and the publisher does his part of the work in a highly creditable manner. — Portland Jeffersonian.

Many of the articles are from persons of distinction: Mrs. Sigourney, Mr. Simms, Poe, Greenhow, Lee, and Judge Hopkinson. — Raleigh Star.

[1836] 12 NOVEMBER. Poe writes Edgar S. Van Winkle, an attorney in New York City, soliciting an article on the “Study of Law in the U.S.” for the Messenger (Ostrom [1974], pp. 515-16).

[1836] 23 NOVEMBER. NEW YORK. Edgar S. Van Winkle writes Poe (Poe to Van Winkle, 26 November 1836).

[1836] 24 NOVEMBER. RICHMOND. White writes William Scott, in New York: “When I reached home I found my wife very ill in bed, and all my office affairs in great confusion .... Let me know if you called on Miss Medina . ... It is requisite I should have her first article here by the 10th Dec . ... Send me the $15 in a $10 and $5 of one of your City Banks; — and send it on as soon as you can get it — for we are all without money in Richmond” (VtMiM).

[1836] 26 NOVEMBER. Poe writes Edgar S. Van Winkle: “ ‘The Study of the Law,’ has been duly received. I have read the essay with much interest, and shall be proud to have it in the ‘Messenger’ ” (Ostrom [1974], pp. 515-16).

[“Study of the Law,” by a member of the New York bar, appeared in the January 1837 Messenger.]

[1836] 26 NOVEMBER. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. The Southern Rose calls the Messenger “that admirable periodical.”

[1836] 2 DECEMBER. NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA. The Newbern Spectator gives Poe advice:

... an original dramatick sketch [the anonymous “Moses Pleading Before Pharaoh” in the October Messenger], of some four hundred lines in length, is well worth of perusal. Were it not that it so little resembles any of the previous productions of the Editor of the Messenger, except in its occasional irregularity and wildness of imagination, we would attribute the authorship to him. We have seldom read any thing more pleasing, indeed more sublime, than are some portions of the work, and whoever the author is, the whole does him credit .... we are arrested ... by the imposing word “Editorial,” over the “Critical Notices.” The first work “scalped” is the “Swiss Heiress;” and never was poor devil treated with more downright coarseness of sneer and indiscriminating contemptuousness, than is the author of the unfortunate “Heiress” ... we are perfectly convinced that the southern literati condemn the substitution of sneer and sarcasm for dignified [page 235:] reasoning and remark .... we contend that an editor has no more right, in his publick capacity, to bring an author into contempt by illiberal and contemptuous criticism on his writings, than he has to pursue a similar course in speech respecting the author's private character . ... if the editors of newspapers would be a little more sparing of their gross flattery and indiscriminating praise, we have no doubt that the Messenger, in all its parts, will be a periodical to which the South may hereafter refer with pride.

[1836] 3 DECEMBER. NEW YORK. The New-Yorker notices the Messenger.

[1836] 7 DECEMBER. RICHMOND. White writes William Scott, in New York: “I shall forward to you by this evening's mail the sheets of my 12th No. It will be issued on Saturday morning [10 December]” (VtMiM).

[1836] 9 DECEMBER. WASHINGTON. James H. Causten replies to Poe's 3 June letter (Causten's endorsement on Poe's letter, L, 2:478).

[1836] 10 DECEMBER. RICHMOND. The November Messenger publishes Poe's introductory note to Thomas R. Dew's “Address,” two fillers (“Walladmor” and “Sir John Hill ... ”), two unsigned notes (comment on Volumes II and III and “Erratum”), and critical notices: “Medical Review” (the British and Foreign Medical Review for January, February, and July 1836), “Mr. Lee's Address” (Z. Collins Lee's Address), and “The Pickwick Club” (Charles Dickens’ The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club). An announcement on the cover “To the Patrons of the Messenger, and the Public Generally,” signed by White, may have been written by Poe:

The present number will conclude the second year of the Messenger, and the Publisher returns his sincere thanks to his numerous patrons for their friendly support. He has labored faithfully to create a Southern interest in favor of Literature, and he trusts that his efforts have not been unsuccessful. The generous spirits of the North and East, who have heretofore contributed to his pages, have for the most part pledged their continued support; and he feels assured from the interest awakened on this side of the Potomac, that Southern rivals will not be backward in that honorable literary strife which leads to excellence. If the Publisher's calculations are not oversanguine, the forthcoming Volume will surpass its predecessors. He has the promise of able pens, and pledges his unflinching exertions to accomplish that result. His efforts, however, must be aided by the pecuniary as well as intellectual assistance of his patrons. He earnestly therefore calls upon them to discharge their subscriptions, and if they feel any of the zeal which he does in the cause of the Messenger, he trusts that they will contribute to extend its circulation, so as to place it upon a solid and firm basis. The first Number of the next Volume will be issued in January.

[1836] 15 DECEMBER. White writes William Scott, in New York: “Money is very [page 236:] scarce here — Times very hard — and, what is still worse, I have a very sick wife, — and ‘To mend of the matter’ my Printing is nearly suspended, in consequence of as ruinous as a foolish strike of the young men Printers, a strike that will in all probability prevent my issuing the 1st No. of my 3d Volume earlier than the 1st February .... Will you call on Mr. Locke and tell him that I have not heard from him as yet, — and that this is the 10th” (VtMiM).

[1836] 16 DECEMBER. NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA. The Newbern Spectator comments:

We have long said that the frothy part, that is, the editorial part, of the SOUTHERN LITERARY MESSENGER, would destroy that publication .... For the sake of the publisher, who is said to be a worthy, unpresuming man, we regret that such must eventually be the case. Every man of proper feelings, every lover of literature, who peruses the work, is disgusted with the superficial criticism and uneducated flippancy of its editorial contents, and with the low, egotistical means resorted to, to force it into notice .... We have been endeavouring for twelve months to convince the Editor of the Messenger that his course was erroneous, discreditable to the South, promotive of bad taste, and ruinous to Mr. WHITE's laudable enterprise, but we got from him in return anything but a column of abusive slang, which would be in place only in a Jackson newspaper.

The Spectator then reprints “Literary Forgeries” from Willis Gaylord Clark's Philadelphia Gazette: the article contains William Leete Stone's testy denial that he wrote the fictitious letter published over his signature in the August installment of Poe's “Autography.”

[1836] 24 DECEMBER. BUCHANAN, BOTETOURT COUNTY, VIRGINIA. The attorney Allan B. Magruder, a former classmate of Poe at West Point, writes him, submitting an essay for the Messenger (Poe to Magruder, 9 January 1837).

[1836] 27 DECEMBER. RICHMOND. White writes Beverley Tucker:

Highly as I really think of Mr. Poe's talents, I shall be forced to give him notice, in a week or so at farthest, that I can no longer recognize him as editor of my Messenger. Three months ago I felt it my duty to give him a similar notice, — and was afterwards overpersuaded to restore him to his situation on certain conditions — which conditions he has again forfeited. Added to all this, I am cramped by him in the exercise of my own judgment, as to what articles I shall or shall not admit into my work. It is true that I neither have his sagacity, nor his learning — but I do believe I know a handspike from a saw . ... I mean to dispense with Mr. Poe as my editor ... if he chooses to write as a contributor, I will pay him well (Jackson [1934], pp. 109-10).

[R. M. T. Hunter, one of Poe's University of Virginia classmates, wrote Henry Tutwiler, another classmate, 20 May 1875: “Here [in Richmond] [page 237:] his [Poe's] habits were bad and as White did not appreciate his literary excellence I had hard work to save him from dismissal before it actually occurred. During a part of the time I was in Richmond, a member of the Legislature, and frequently volunteered to correct the press when pieces were being published with classical quotations. Poe was the only man on White's staff capable of doing this and when occasionally drinking (the habit was not constant) he was incapacitated for work. On such occasions I have done the work more than once to prevent a rupture between his employer and himself. He was reckless about money and subject to intoxication, but I was not aware of any other bad habit that he had” (Jacobs, p. 180).]

[1836] 1836. Poe composes “Spiritual Song” (Mabbott [1969], 1:303-304).

[1836] LATE 1836 OR EARLY 1837. Poe writes Lambert A. Wilmer, in Baltimore (Ostrom [1981], p. 189).

[In Our Press Gang (1859) Wilmer gave this account: “A short time before I determined to [leave Baltimore] ... I received a letter from my eccentric friend Edgar A. Poe, — who was then officiating as the editor and critic of the Southern Literary Messenger .... In his epistle, Poe gave me to understand that he was preparing to leave Richmond, and he advised me to come thither without delay, — as he was quite sure that I could obtain the situation he was about to vacate .... It was wholly out of my power to act in accordance with Mr. Poe's suggestion — for I could not raise money enough to pay for the transportation of myself and my family to Richmond” (pp. 39-40).]


~~ 1837 ~~

Scroll down, or select month:


[1837] 3 JANUARY. RICHMOND. Poe “retires” as editor of the Messenger (White to Tucker, 27 December 1836, and to Scott, 23 January 1837; Messenger, 3 [January 1837]: 72, 96).

Virginia Clemm Poe [thumbnail]

[Illustration on page 238]
Virginia Clemm Poe

[1837] AFTER 3 JANUARY? NEW YORK. Francis Lister Hawks writes Poe, offering him a position on a forthcoming magazine, the New York Review: “I wish you to fall in with your broad-axe amidst this miserable literary trash which surrounds us. I believe you have the will, and I know well you have the ability” (Philadelphia Saturday Museum, 4 March 1843). [page 239:]

[Poe reviewed Hawks's Ecclesiastical History in the March 1836 Messenger. Hawks was a native of New Bern, North Carolina. Occasional items about him appear in the Newbern Spectator.]

[1837] 9 JANUARY. RICHMOND. Poe writes Allan B. Magruder: “Your kind letter of Christmas Eve was duly received — with the Essay .... It shall certainly appear, entire, in the February number of the Messenger .... Ill health, and a weight of various and harassing business will prove, I trust, a sufficient excuse [for not having replied before]” (L, 2:680).

[1837] 14 JANUARY. White promises Poe financial assistance (White to Poe, 17 January 1837).

[1837] 17 JANUARY. White writes Poe:

If it be possible, without breaking in on my previous arrangements, I will get more than the 1st portion of Pym in — tho’ I much fear that will be impossible.

If I had read even 10 lines of Magruder's manuscript, it would have saved me the expense of putting it in type. — It is all ... bombast. He will have to live a little longer before he can write well enough to please the readers of the M.

Touching Carey's piece, gratitude to him for pecuniary assistance, obliges me to insert it.

You are certainly as well aware as I am that the last $20 I advanced to you was in consideration of what you were to write for me by the piece.

I also made you a promise on Saturday that I would do something more for you to-day, — and I never make even a promise without intending to perform it, — and though it is entirely out of my power to send you up any thing this morning, yet I will do something more for you before night, or early to-morrow, — if I have to borrow it from my friends (W, 17:41-42).

[1837] 19 JANUARY. White writes Beverley Tucker:

Your Review of Bulwer will follow Judge [Abel P.] Upshur's of the Partisan [Leader] . ... I really am delighted to learn that you design reviewing Blackwood. Professor Anthon, when I saw him in N. York last Oct. called my particular attention to the subject of Reviewing Reviews ... which he thought wretchedly conducted — as he also said of the Knickerbocker, and American Monthly. I found Mr. Anthon, as I thought, not only a man of great acquirements but he really made a most favorable impression on me that he was a gentleman. With Paulding I was still more pleased — he is not a great man, but he is unquestionably a man of the strictest morality . ... I am very sorry to hear that [J. N.] Reynolds is suspected even of being what he ought not be. I formed an acquaintance with him in this city about 10 years ago, and absolutely became almost devotedly attached to the fellow. He is a most fascinating dog, — and I think he has a great share of good common sense. — To me he owes the favor he has received in the Messenger — but if he is a corrupt man, I have done with him. [page 240:] Tell me privately what you know of him .... I shall also send you a bundle of manuscripts which I have lately received — and get the favor of you to pass sentence on them . ...  . I am glad to hear you say that you will stick to me in this my trying hour . ... [Lucian] Minor will be here some time in Feb. when I shall hear what he says — But my dear Sir, I am so overwhelmed in debt that I scarcely dare think of such an editor as I know I ought to have . ... Poe feels his situation at last — I see but little of him — but I hear a great deal about him and from him. I am tired out with hard work (Jackson [1934], pp. 111-12).

[1837] 20 JANUARY. NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA. The Newbern Spectator praises the Knickerbocker while it condemns “inexperienced men who measurably control the critical press of the country.”

[1837] 23 JANUARY. RICHMOND. White writes William Scott, in New York:

It has been entirely out of my power to answer your kind favor of the 17th ’till today. Betwixt my office and my domicile, my whole time has been consumed — i.e. ever since my return to Richmond. At last, my poor wife seems to be better — and we begin to think we may yet conquer the disease, which is pronounced by the physicians cancer in her womb. She has had already a 5 months’ siege of it. My hands are once more at work, but their “strike” has been a serious drawback as well as a great injury to me in a pecuniary point of view — one that will cost me months of hard labor to recover from. By to-morrow night's mail I will send you rough sheets of my Jan. No. in which you will find your article on the “Rights of Authors,” though not in the part of the Messenger I promised you it should be placed. This was, however, intended, I assure you, in no ways as a mark of disrespect. But its getting where it now stands, was unavoidable, in consequence of arrangements which had been previously made by others — as well by the fact of my attention being called from my office when it was made up . ... Previous to writing you I had submitted your manuscript to Mr. Poe, who handed it back to me as being suitable for the Messenger. After I had it put in type, I sent a corrected proof of it to him. He returned it, as you will see, making several corrections, — and amongst other things, striking out your first paragraph, or exordium. He also struck out your two concluding paragraphs — but I thought them worth preserving — and therefore took upon myself the “responsibility” of retaining them. I have no doubt whatever, that Mr. Poe done what he has done for the best. I hope, moreover, that you will think so also. Be that as it may, I assure you there was not the slightest intention on my part (nor do I believe there was on that of Mr. Poe's) to mar your production .... Mr. Poe retired from the editorship of my work on the 3d inst. I am once more at the head of my affairs. Nevertheless I have private friends to whom I submit all articles — and I have consented to abide by their judgment (VtMiM).

[1837] 24 JANUARY. White writes Beverley Tucker: “stick to me ... now [that] Poe is not my editor .... Except Walsh, Rights of Authors and Poe's [page 241:] articles, no one would accept of cash for their articles” (Vi-W-TC; Jackson [1934], pp. 112-14).

White writes Tucker a second letter:

... the Messenger is safe. It shall live — and it shall outlive all the injury it has sustained from Mr. Poe's management, — unless Almighty God deprives me of health or of life ....

To yourself I am grateful in the extreme for what you have done, are doing, and I am sure will do for me. With two more friends like yourself, and I could get along for the 12 months to come, without any ostensible editor. At the end of that time, I should, I believe, be able to give a suitable reward for such talents as I ought to have.

At present help (original) is coming in more rapid than at any time since I have started the Messenger — all too since the fact has eked out that Poe is not to act as Judge or Judge Advocate — A great deal of it is good matter — and all far better than his Gordon Pym for which I apparently pay him now — $3 per page, but which in reality has and still costs me $20 per page. But him I shall soon be clear off [of.] His every movement shows me that he will be off in a short time . ... I am, my friend, considerably inclined to melancholy — too much so, for my comfort or happiness — but I cannot help it (Vi-W-TC).

[Years later Benjamin Blake Minor wrote: “Mr. Poe besought the proprietor to reinstate him as editor, but Mr. White, in terms firm yet kindly, refused to do so” (Minor, p. 64).]

[1837] AFTER 26 JANUARY. The January 1837 Messenger makes its appearance with Poe's “Valedictory,” first installment of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, “Ballad,” “To Zante,” and book reviews: Washington Irving's Astoria, William Cullen Bryant's Poems, Nathaniel Beverley Tucker's George Balcombe, Charles Anthon's Select Orations of Cicero, and Jeremiah N. Reynolds’ Address on the Subject of a Surveying and Exploring Expedition to the Pacific Ocean and South Seas.

White announces:

To the Patrons of the Southern Literary Messenger: in issuing the present number of the “Messenger” (the first of a new volume) I deem it proper to inform my subscribers, and the public generally, that Mr. Poe, who has filled the editorial department for the last twelve months with so much ability, retired from that station on the 3d inst., and the entire management of the work again devolves on myself alone. Mr. P., however, will continue to furnish its columns, from time to time, with the effusions of his vigorous and popular pen, — and my old contributors among whom I am proud to number some of the best writers in our state and country, will doubtless continue to favor me with their valuable contributions. ... It is perhaps due to Mr. Poe to state, that he is not responsible for any of the articles which appear in the present number, except the reviews of “Bryant's Poems;” “George Balcombe;” “Irving's Astoria,” “Reynolds's Address on the South Sea Expedition;” “Anthon's Cicero,” — the first number of “Arthur Gordon [page 242:] Pym,” a sea story, and two poetical effusions to which his name is prefixed (2:96).

[1837] 31 JANUARY. White writes Beverley Tucker:

You really have taken a great deal of trouble to read all the articles I sent you. — Poe always admitted the nonsense of Paulina [DuPré?]. — You are right. — They will be well suited for the Ladies’ Companion . ... Poe pesters me no little — he is trying every manoeuvre to foist himself on some one at the North — at least I believe so. — He is continually after me for money. I am as sick of his writings, as I am of him, — and am rather more than half inclined to send him up another dozen dollars in the morning, and along with it all his unpublished manuscripts.

Tell me candidly what you think of his Pym (Marryatt's style I suppose) and his Poetry.

Treat all of this as private, which you think ought to be private — Let all be private about Poe (Vi-W-TC).

[1837] JANUARY? Poe transcribes “Irene” in John Collins McCabe's album (Mabbott [1969], 1:182-83).

[1837] 7 FEBRUARY. Beverley Tucker arrives in Richmond (letter of White to Tucker, 7 February, Vi-W-TC).

[1837] EARLY FEBRUARY? NEW YORK. Poe, his wife Virginia, and Maria Clemm arrive here and take up residence at Sixth Avenue and Waverley Place, sharing a floor with William Gowans, a bookseller (Phillips, 1:549, 558-59).

[William Gowans later wrote: “For eight months or more, ‘one house contained us, us one table fed!’ During that time I saw much of him, and had an opportunity of conversing with him often, and I must say I never saw him the least affected with liquor, nor even descend to any known vice, while he was one of the most courteous, gentlemanly, and intelligent companions I have met with during my journeyings and haltings through divers divisions of the globe; besides, he had an extra inducement to be a good man as well as a good husband, for he had a wife of matchless beauty and loveliness, her eye could match that of any houri, and her face defy the genius of a Canova to imitate; a temper and disposition of surpassing sweetness; besides, she seemed as much devoted to him and his every interest as a young mother is to her first born .... Poe had a remarkably pleasing and prepossessing countenance, what the ladies would call decidedly handsome” (Quinn, p. 267, and Thomas [1978], pp. 773-74).]

[1837] 3 FEBRUARY. NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA. The Newbern Spectator comments on Poe's departure from the Messenger: [page 243:]

We are glad to find that Mr. WHITE has resumed the sole management, as the unnecessary severity of the late Editor, Mr. Poe, had no doubt alienated from the work many who sincerely wished it success. Mr. POE is unquestionably a man of talents, and when these shall have been restricted by experience and moderation, there is no doubt that he will shine as a writer. He has a brilliant imagination, a free use of language, and corruscations of genius are not infrequent in his writings; but these gifts, to be useful, should not be under the impetuous guidance of youth. We seldom learn but from actual experience, what we owe to others: time alone can bestow this experience, and teach us to hold the scales of Justice with a hand as impartial as our common nature permits. We shall speak of the contents of the Messenger in our next.

[1837] 10 FEBRUARY. The Newbern Spectator remarks that “ ‘Arthur Gordon Pym,’ [is] apparently the first number of a series of the Pym family. We hope those to come will be more worthy of perusal.”

[1837] 14 FEBRUARY. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA. The Charleston Courier censures the Messenger for printing in its January issue Abel P. Upshur's review of Beverley Tucker's The Partisan Leader and reports: “Mr. EDGAR A. POE, who has for some time past ably presided in the editorial department, has resigned the chair, but will continue to grace the work with his brilliant contributions.”

[1837] BEFORE 28 FEBRUARY. BALTIMORE. W. H. Carpenter, J. S. Norris, and James Brown solicit from Poe a contribution to the Baltimore Book (Poe to Carpenter, Norris, and Brown, 28 February).

[1837] 28 FEBRUARY. NEW YORK. Poe writes Carpenter, Norris, and Brown: “It would give me the greatest pleasure to aid you in your design of a ‘Baltimore Book’ and I would be quite willing to forward an article by the 1st April if so late a period would answer. I am afraid my other engagements would not admit of my sending anything at an earlier date” (L, 1:111).

[1837] AFTER 3 MARCH. RICHMOND. The February Messenger appears with the second installment of Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.

[1837] 30 MARCH. NEW YORK. Poe attends the Booksellers Dinner sponsored by New York publishers at the City Hotel and proposes a toast: “The Monthlies of Gotham — Their distinguished Editors, and their vigorous Collaborateurs” (American, 3 April).

[“Of the large number of literary men who were present at the famous dinner given to authors at the City Hotel, March 30, 1837, by the [page 244:] booksellers of New-York, [Charles Fenno] Hoffman was the last survivor .... among others who were present, Chancellor Kent, Colonel Trumbull, Albert Gallatin, Washington Irving, Fitz-Greene Halleck, James K. Paulding, William Cullen Bryant, George P. Morris, William L. Stone, Edgar A. Poe, Dr. John W. Francis, Dr. Orville Dewey, Matthew L. Davis, Charles King, and Lewis Gaylord Clark” (J. G. Wilson [1893], 4:71).]

[1837] 3 APRIL. The New York American carries an eight-column account of the Booksellers Dinner; this is reprinted in the biweekly American (For the Country) on 7 April.

[1837] 5 APRIL. RICHMOND. White writes William Scott, in New York: “Tell me, when you write what Poe is driving at — that is, if you know — but do not put yourself out to gratify perhaps an idle curiosity. I have not heard from him since he left here” (VtMiM).

[1837] 26 APRIL. White writes Beverley Tucker:

I am very sure that you will give a just criticism of Paulding .... If he [Paulding] would have been proud of praise from Poe, it would have been because he really admired the fellow's talents. — Like myself he was completely gulled. The truth is, Poe seldom or ever done what he knew was just to any book. He read few through — unless it were some trashy novels, — and his only object in reading even these, was to ridicule their authors. Read his eulogistic review of of [your George] Balcombe — which he penned only because he believed you were its author. He has scarcely selected a passage out of the two volumes which warrants the praise he has lavished on it. But enough of this — this mortifying subject (Vi-W-TC; Jackson [1934], p. 115).

[1837] 29 APRIL. NEW YORK. The New-Yorker praises Poe's editorship of the Messenger (Pollin [1974], p. 43).

[1837] MAY. The Knickerbocker Magazine announces that Harper & Brothers have Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym “nearly ready for publication.”

[1837] 10 MAY. The New York City banks suspend specie payments, precipitating the “Panic of 1837” and marking the beginning of one of the worst depressions in American history.

[1837] BEFORE 27 MAY? Poe, Virginia, and Maria Clemm move to 113 1/2 Carmine Street (Phillips, 1:558-59; Quinn, p. 267).

[1837] 27 MAY. Poe writes Charles Anthon and asks him to translate several Hebrew phrases from the Old Testament. Poe believes that certain Biblical quotations in John L. Stephens’ Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, [page 245:] and the Holy Land, which he is reviewing for the October New York Review, are inaccurate (Poe to Anthon, 1 June 1837; Thomas [1978], pp. 10-11).

[1837] MAY OR LATER? Perhaps Poe sees a performance of George Colman's The Poor Gentleman (Pollin [1970a], pp. 80-82).

[1837] 1 JUNE. Charles Anthon writes Poe: “I owe you an apology for not having answered your letter of the 27th sooner, but I was occupied at the time with matters that admitted of no delay, and was compelled therefore to lay your communication on the table for a day or two. I hope you will find what is written below satisfactory. Do not wait to pay me a formal visit, but call and introduce yourself” (W, 17:42-43).

[1837] 10 JUNE. Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon P.Y.M. [[Pym]] of Nantucket is copyrighted by the Harpers, although not published until 30 July 1838 (Exman, p. 96).

[1837] JUNE. The American Monthly Magazine, owned by Park Benjamin and Charles Fenno Hoffman, publishes Poe's “Von Jung, the Mystific” (later called “Mystification”).

[1837] JULY. PHILADELPHIA. William Evans Burton launches the Gentleman's Magazine.

[1837] OCTOBER. NEW YORK. Poe's unsigned review of John L. Stephens’ Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, and the Holy Land appears in the “2d number” of the New York Review.

[1837] NOVEMBER? BALTIMORE. Poe's “Siope — A Fable” (later “Silence”) appears in the Baltimore Book for 1838.

[1837] 2 DECEMBER. The Baltimore Monument reviews Poe's “Siope”:

This fable, if we reck it right, is intended to indicate the horror of silence, — that man may not be entirely accursed while he can hear the sounds which hurtle in the bosom of nature; the curse of tumult is represented as happiness to the curse of silence. The strain is wild, the language beautiful and peculiar to Mr. Poe (Fisher, p. 56).

[1837] 1837? NEW YORK. Poe appears at the Northern Dispensary, Waverley Place and Christopher Street, in Greenwich Village, to get remedies for a cold. Perhaps he meets Dr. Valentine Mott and Marie L. Shew at this time (Phillips, 1:556-57; Mabbott [1969], 1:547-48).

[1837] 1837? Perhaps William Gowans introduces Poe, Virginia, and Maria Clemm to the James Pedder family (Allen, p. 339).






[S:1 - TPL, 1987] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - The Poe Log (D. R. Thomas and D. K. Jackson) (Chapter 04 [Part 02])